Revisiting the Heart-to-Heart Summit

India and China once again hit the headlines for their bilateral ties, fortunately this time it was for positive reasons. From 27th to 28th April 2018 the Prime Ministers of the two countries shared an informal meet at Wuhan, China. Over the past few years the relations between the two countries have been pretty intense. Instances like the Dokalam standoff, China’s blocking of India’s admission to Nuclear Suppliers Group, the contention expressed over China’s investment in China Pakistan Economic Corridor or India’s aversion from Belt and Road Forum, are clear examples of the same. In the wake of such tensions the Wuhan Informal Summit did indicate a conciliatory approach from both the ends.

Both India and China have a commonality of vision when it comes to seeking a world order which is based on globalization, multilateralism and peaceful coexistence. Both the countries are aiming to become leading powers in the pursuit of which they have to pass through a common road of establishing essentially good relations with all the Asian countries. And more than anything else the two states have had flourishing economic relations with each other over the past couple of years, in order to maintain which they are bound to negotiate for peaceful resolutions at least over the most immediate political standpoints like that of Dokalam if not for all. Taking cognizance of the same both Xi and Modi decided to “issue strategic guidance to their militaries to strengthen communication” [Hindu].

India and China’s complex relationship has always been tackled by very mature diplomatic approaches as exhibited by the dialogues of 2015, 2016 and 2017 between the two countries respectively. However as commendable as such dialogues seem, what also attracts much attention at the same time is the clarity in the outcomes of such diplomatic maneuvers. Hence, a simple question arises, i.e., how effective was this informal summit?

In terms of trade, the mutually beneficial area for both countries, what India currently worries about is its explicitly increasing trade deficit in favor of China, thus India’s focus by the end of this Summit continued to revolve around the idea of working towards balanced trade for both the countries. Whereas for China the dynamics of trade made use of the term balanced in a global and multilateral perspective. Further their priorities lie in protectionism from the west.

Another key area was that of terrorism. The statement released by Ministry of External Affairs does refer to the condemnation of the same but beyond this general stance no specific details have been released regarding the tackling of this subject. As far as the “strategic guidance” idea is concerned, that was concluded as a part of this summit over the Dokalam issue, major emphasis was on better application of the pre-existing measures and not on formulating new strategies, which is quite in contrast to what was being expected out of this summit as such decisions only seem to secure short term results.

Despite the above uncertainties over some key areas, what can’t be denied is the conciliatory spirit of both the countries. Both the states very well acknowledge the mutual benefits that they can reap by supporting each other and it is the long term pursuit of the same that these short term measures can achieve.

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