China and India take steps to improve bilateral ties
On April 28th, China and India concluded a two-day informal summit in Wuhan, China, during which Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to strengthen “strategic communications” and maintain peace along the two countries' shared border.
Last year, China and India were involved in a tense 72-day military standoff in the disputed border region, which pushed their bilateral relations toward a historic low point since the Sino-Indian War in 1962. The informal summit was intended to clear the air and improve the damaged bilateral ties.
According to a joint statement released by the Indian Foreign Ministry, the two leaders “underscored the importance of maintaining peace and tranquility in all areas of the India-China border region in the larger interest of the overall development of bilateral relations."
Chinese Foreign Ministry also said the two sides will enhance policy coordination in their neighborhood to discuss cooperation in the form of China-India-plus-X.
Following the summit, armies of China and India held a Border Personnel Meeting on May 1st. Both sides agreed to build peace along the Line of Actual Control, as well as to work on additional confidence-building measures.
"There is reason to believe that this Wuhan meeting will increase mutual trust, manage and control disputes, deepen cooperation and lead to a new phase in China-India relations," said China’s official media People's Daily on April 28th in a front page commentary
Despite the overt display of mutual goodwill, however, analysts expressed skepticism about the efficacy of the summit.
“The summit was long on political theater, such as shows of amity, but short on concrete results to fundamentally change the Sino-Indian dynamics,” said Brahma Chellaney, a senior fellow at New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research.
The differences between China and India are still apparent and intractable, according to the report of Reuters. Apart from disputes over stretches of a 3,500 km (2,200 miles) border, India has long been apprehensive about China’s traditionally tight ties with Pakistan and Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative that could potentially challenge the role of India in Indian Ocean. In turn, China has been concerned about the prospect of closer defense and strategic cooperation between India and the US against China, as well as India’s hosting of the Dalai Lama and other exiled Tibetans.