Rejecting the idea of a Chinese encirclement of India under the so-called ‘String of pearls strategy’, Minister of State for External Affairs Gen (Retd.) V.K. Singh called 2018 a landmark year in bilateral relationships where Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided to hold the Wuhan summit without any agenda.
“If we are friendly with Kazakhstan, Russia, Japan, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and Tajikistan, does China call it ‘string of pearls’? I don’t think so. Each country creates its own relationships, for its own benefits. Some of them result in good influences, some of them may not result in good influences,” Gen. Singh said on Tuesday speaking at the launch of a book Sino-Indian Equation: Competition + Cooperation – Confrontation authored by Brig (Dr.) Rajeev Bhutani (retd).
“I don’t think we are surrounded,” he further stated, giving instances of the different nature of relationships India and China had with various countries.
China has built a series of dual use facilities in the Indian Ocean Region around India which began to be referred to as String of Pearls.
On the Wuhan summit which broke the chill in the relationship after the 2017 Doklam stand off, Mr. Singh said the aim was very simple, “to achieve a personal relationship, to achieve an understanding of what each one thinks, what are the red lines, what are not the red lines, what is it that we can push and what is it that we cannot push.”
It was a very conscious decision that was taken since the land boundary is complex and there is a mechanism already set for it which will carry on,
Beyond border issues
Since the land boundary is a complex issue and there is a mechanism already set for it which will carry on, Gen. Singh said, adding that it was a conscious decision to develop the relationship in different areas and focus on people-to-people contacts, economics, commerce, investments in each other’s country so that “it brings down those fixations and hard stances which exist.”
“Whether it will succeed or not, time will tell. But it has been a good methodology to ensure that we soften some of things that we keep seeing in the boundary talks,” he added.
However, addressing the gathering Prof. Srikanth Kondapalli from Jawaharlal Nehru University noted that there was no principle of reciprocity in India-China relationship referring to the One China and One India policy.