Leaders of China, India Talk as Border Face-Off Intensifies
Xi arrived in India Wednesday in the western state of Gujarat, the first visit to India by a Chinese leader in eight years. He was welcomed in traditional Indian style with song and dance performances, and a banquet on the bank of the Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad city.
Things got more serious, however, after news of the face-off on the border. India deployed around 1,500 soldiers to the region, leading to a stare-down between the two sides, according to New Delhi Television (NDTV).
On Thursday, Modi held private talks with Xi in New Delhi, raising the issue with Xi directly. They later held a joint press conference.
“I expressed concern on border incursions and the need to resolve it,” said Modi, according to multiple media reports. “Peace and stability at the border is necessary. We need to resolve the boundary issue quickly. Our border confidence-building measures have helped, but I have also suggested that for peace and stability, we need to clarify [the] LAC (Line of Actual Control).”
Xi also said it was an issue of unclear borders, and stressed the will to resolve it as soon as possible through friendly means.
China’s Objective in India
Also during that meeting the two countries signed multiple agreements advancing trade, cultural exchanges, peaceful use of outer space, and a twin city arrangement between Shanghai and Mumbai. A long-anticipated $20 billion deal on Industrial Parks was also signed, which will be spread out over five years.
Dr. Subhash Kapila, a consultant on international relations and strategic affairs with South Asia Analysis Group, in New Delhi thinks China’s investment in India is a jab at Japan.
“China or the Chinese President could have offered economic goodies to India years before … Why now? Because China wants to steal a march over Japan in terms of economics. China wants to drive a wedge in the Japan-India strategic partnership,” he said.
In the first week of September, Modi made a visit to Japan and signed a series of bilateral agreements, including the promise of a $35 billion investment in India over the next five years.
However other analysts believe China wants to mend its relationships with Asian countries like India to strengthen its sphere of influence.
“I would imagine, when Xi Jinping assumed office, one of his agendas was to have better relationships with the Asian countries, and out of that you can find Japan, with which they don’t have a good relationship at all; the other main country in Asia is India, so I would imagine he would like to repair the relationship with India,” said Ashok K. Behuria, a strategic analyst at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi.
According to Behuria, China doesn’t want the India–U.S. relationship to strengthen, and this would be one reason for China’s increased interest in India.
Kapila on the other hand, said the situation between India and China is not much different than between the United States and China.
“Beyond economics we can’t expect anything from China. There will be no strategic game changers,” he said.
Behuria also expressed distrust in China’s wiliness to invest in India while at the same time escalating border tensions and laying claim to parts of Indian-controlled territory.