Xi Jinping’s – The recently concluded ‘Chennai Connect’, an informal submit between India and China after Wuhan in 2018 was hosted by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
No other bilateral relationship of the size as big as India-China relationship have taken such a leisurely approach to solve important issues that include border disputes, trade deficits as well as Pakistan and Kashmir. While the economy of China is said to be five times bigger than India for Modi to flex its muscles, the Indian Prime Minister have taken a tortoise approach toward mending the trade deficits with China.
What is unclear, however, is Xi Jinping’s approach to India policy. Barely days before its India tour, China had hosted the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and had pledged to safeguard the ‘core interests’ of Pakistan that include sovereignty and territorial integrity. Yet, China hasn’t vetoed India’s stance that Kashmir is a bilateral issue at the UNSC although it had objected to India’s recent abrogation of Article 370 on Kashmir.
Border disputes is also another major concern for India-China relationship that have led to the Doklam standoff in 2017. Yet, Chinese President Xi Jinping haven’t prominently brought up the border disputes on the table for discussion.While the ‘optics’ at the Wuhan Summit as well as Chennai Connect is welcomed, China’s stance on Kashmir and Pakistan is unsettling and is mired in dilemma.
Pakistan is said to be an all weather ally of China but India and China seemed to have found a common ground in fighting against terrorism. What Xi Jinping should have done at the Chennai Connect is to bring up a feasible solution for discussion for the border disputes so that another Doklam standoff doesn’t occur. It was also pertinent that China take an objective as well as a consensus approach as far as Kashmir issue is concerned if China has to play a more global role in the days to come.