By Tirthankar Mitra
In the aftermath of Wagner rebellion Sino-Russian relations is not what it used to be earlier.. It was a “bromance” between two most powerful authoritarians, President Xi Jingping of China and President Vladimir Putin of Russia and the uprising was the most significant to the latter’s authority in the past two decades.
In terms of real politic, Mr Jinping’s big bet on Mr Putin is not looking so safe. The challenge to the Russian President’s authority hitherto unquestioned, faced a challenge from the Wagner affair.
Russian war effort in Ukraine is crumbling. Ukrainian sappers contention that Russians have strewn the path of their opponents’ counter offensive to slow it down tells a story of a turn in the tide.
Russian Federation no longer enjoys a position of strength it once occupied in its negotiations with the People’s Republic of China. Xi-Putin bromance had peaked in the year of Ukraine war, it seems a slump is round the corner.
Given PRC’s not too distant past foreign policy trends, Russia is considered to be a weakened, unpredictable nuclear state in China’s border. It’s leader’s grip on power is not firm.
In this scenario, the Chinese Communist Party is advocating a broader international alliance. It is at this juncture where India can make its presence felt provided China settles several Sino-Indian disputes which are pending. There can not be one time settlement but at least, the process can be cordial.
India can act as a honest broker in China’s greater engagement with the West. The presence of India can go a long way in dissolving the disbelief which many countries in the West harbour about the country behind the Bamboo Curtain.
India interceding on PRC’s behalf setting aside Doklam and other disputes will add much needed crediblity to China’s endeavour for a wider acceptance in the West. Delhi not abandoning it’s closer ties with Washington will add heft to its effort to further China’s better ties with the West as India’s standing with US matters..
The ball is clearly in China’s court As a first step to initiate closer ties with India, it is for Beijing to decide whether it will continue to pour good money in a basket case of Pakistan. India is rising. No longer can China afford to ignore it.
It is time for both countries to cut down geo-strategic rivalry. It is a time for engagement.
China’s steps to cut down long-standing Sino-Indian disputes has to be given a big dose of reality and reasonableness. A forecast of what India stands to gain from its endeavour in helping China attain a better footing with the West is in order.
A settlement of border disputes will help India what economists term as “space to grow”. Such a situation is not to be sneezed at.
Unlike the “halycon days” of Panchsheel, India needs to keep its strategic interests paramount as it engages with China. It can no longer afford to be caught napping thereby allowing a cross-border intrusion or failing to respond to an overture from China.(IPA Service)