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A strategic thought on improving Indian-Chinese relations

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Illustration Ajit Ninan

"Based on this, China still possesses more troops than India in total", an anonymous military expert told the Global Times. The two nations have been at loggerheads after India opposed the construction of a road in the strategically significant Doklam plateau. While it had a special treaty relationship with New Delhi since 1949, the two countries did not share any formal defence arrangement until then.

After nearly seven weeks into tension, the Indo-China rivalry on the Sikkim/Doklam region, in which both countries are accusing the other of violating their borders, has refused to die out, exposing the delicate nature of their bilateral relations despite the otherwise strong bilateral trade worth billions of dollars. And one of the most important signals the ministry sent was that the hawkish rhetoric some Chinese state media had published does not represent China's official position.

It has also warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to push India into a "reckless conflict" with China as People's Liberation Army, as the latter is sufficiently capable of annihilating Indian troops in the border region. "Betting on Beijing backing away from a fight because of its desire for a peaceful neighborhood is a risk, as it ignores the fact that the foundation for that is countries respecting China's territorial integrity", the editorial said.

A sovereign and independent Bhutan can serve as a buffer zone between China and India. Nearly two weeks ago on July 21, it had published a similar threat saying, "If Indian troops continue trespassing into China's territory, what Beijing may do next is to get prepared for a military confrontation and resolve the conflict through non-diplomatic means".

Sources revealed that the visits of Indian delegations to China and vice versa are also going on. "The lessons of the 1962 war didn't last for half a century", the editorial said. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said earlier that the information was conveyed through the border meeting mechanism to resolve the disputes. China with the help of its universities comes out with articles defending the Chinese stand on a lot of issues in a bid to give them claim legitimacy. While India and China have robust armies facing each other at Himalayas, the Indo-American military exercises have built up strong diplomatic ties between the two countries. And no matter how the current standoff between India and China at Doklam shapes up in coming days, the Sino-India relations have further taken a nosedive and will remain so for a long period of time.

India's Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj, who is the equivalent to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, took a defiant tone in a recent speech given to her nation's parliament.

Most previous standoffs, such as one in 2014 just ahead of a rare trip to India for President Xi Jinping, were resolved with both sides withdrawing their forces. China has also indicated that "it can intervene in Kashmir on Pakistan's request as India did in Doklam on Bhutan's request".

It alleged that India invented excuses to justify illegal action since the incident of border crossing broke out while also calling India's security concerns over China's road-building activity as ill-founded.

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