India and China: Can the recent warm rhetoric signals the onslaught of a new era?

“If China and India hold together, the future of Asia is assured.” Jawaharlal Nehru, January 20, 1946

693

One gets the feeling that the recent and “sudden” announcement of the informal summit between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping at the end of April of 2018 literally caught everyone by surprise. In fact, there were exhilarating rhetoric between the next level leaders, such as India’s External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj who declared in Beijing that the people of both nations must learn to speak each other’s languages in order to be able to have heart-to-heart talk. Such developments are particularly “unexpected,” especially after the Doklam standoff in the summer of 2017, communications between India and China were essentially mute, at least in public.

Perhaps what is most intriguing to the world at large, is why now? What are the regional and global geopolitics that incentivize the leaders of both nations to establish dialogues, even with warm tone, with each other?

I was fortunate that my good friend, Professor B. R. Deepak of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, a substantial Chinese expert in all dimensions (culture, literature, politics) sent me a Indian TV Forum where he and two other experts were invited to discussed the recent Indian-Chinese dialogue.

(See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV0bk7iyfgQ)

While all three experts in the Forum commented in depth and with comprehensive understanding of the geopolitics of India and China, it was equally clear that what are the incentives driving this sudden rhetorical warmth remain somewhat elusive. All of them discussed at length the current challenges, domestic and foreign, between the two nations. All three, if I am not mistaken, made it clear that while the challenges are present, and probably remained so, the leaderships of both nations have come to the realization that one needs to “circle” and go around them so that both nations could move forward, and design a positive path which is not only good for both nations, but for the world at large. In the end, their words convey a sense that while success is not guarantee, they do have positive hope that there will be good outcome.

As the old saying goes, “there are no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests!” If India and China were left to themselves, with no outside interactions or interferences, I am quite confidence

that these two ancient neighboring countries, with essentially no conflict for thousands of years except for the 1962 border conflict, could find the will to design such a path. But in the real world, the outside world would most likely to find such a path not in their self-interests. Indeed, some may even would even try to disrupt it.

Despite of all had transpired historically between the two nations since 1962, the necessity that these two Asian giants should work together for the benefit of mankind has not altered. China today is a nation of 1.4 billion and India 1.26 billion. Both are culturally, historically and economically enlightening. China may soon be the largest economy in the world and India is growing rapidly. To this end, both had emerged in the 21st century as major global players, and both in their own manners are driving forces of global transformation.

With all the above as preamble, I cannot help but again to recall the wise twelve words uttered by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to my father Paul Feng in January 20, 1946, “If China and India hold together, the future of Asia is assured.” Similar words were uttered by the great Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping later on. The essence of these words rings true today as they did 72 years ago. Let’s hope that the leaders, coupled with the wisdom of their great people, will work together to allow these two nations to turn a world of deep confusion as it is today into a world of enlightenment for all humanity.