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China - India
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"Most of my conversation with the Chinese foreign minister was about our bilateral relations. I have previously described India-China relations as 'anomalous' and used this word in my conversation with the minister." So spoke Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar after discussing for just over half an hour with his Chinese counterpart Qin Gang on the sidelines of the G20. He added that: "there are issues that need to be examined and discussed in a very open and frank manner between us...The meeting focused on our bilateral relations and the challenges that they pose, especially with regard to peace and tranquility in the border areas." Which, translated from the conciliatory language of diplomacy, simply means 'nothing new' in the complex relations between the two Asian giants. Which last month had met for the 26th time in Beijing to discuss the troubled issue of shared borders. The story has been going on virtually forever, but the border issue has soured considerably since China ushered in a season of troop encroachments and clashes and other assorted provocations in 2020. Bilateral meetings follow one another, but the truth is that Beijing has no intention of resolving the issue except from a position of strength and after nibbling as many strategic positions as possible from the borders. The whole thing is, of course, part of a broader strategy. The Chinese ultimate goal is to compete with the United States, but before they can do so they must become the leading power in Asia. Ergo India, another major Asian power, must be rendered somewhat harmless. The fact that New Delhi is part of the Quad-the U.S.-Japan-Australia-India grouping that aims to contain China's aggressive moves in the Indo-Pacific is an added irritant. Relations between the two nations are bound to remain 'anomalous' for quite some time to come.
Francesca Marino