Though there has been general peace on the India-China border, a geopolitical analyst from India claimed that Beijing is “hesitant” to find a permanent solution to the de facto border.
“There is a huge dispute as far as China and India border issue is concerned,” said Alok Bansal, director of the India Foundation, a New Delhi-based think tank, while referring to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a de facto border that separates the two countries in Ladakh area of the disputed Jammu and Kashmir region.
The militaries of the two countries butted heads in May 2020, and at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed in a fistfight the following month. However, tensions along the uninhabited high-altitude area subsided after several rounds of talks between the two sides.
“The Line of Actual Control, which denotes the equal position (that) the two Indian and Chinese militaries uphold, is also disputed, and this does create certain problems,” Bansal told Anadolu Agency in Ankara, Türkiye’s capital.
He said New Delhi has been telling Beijing that there is a “time to delineate the LAC on the map and demarcate on the ground without, in any way, compromising our traditional claims.”
“This would ensure peace and tranquility along the border. (However,) China has been hesitant,” he claimed, adding that the situation along the LAC is “fragile, and we are trying to de-escalate the situation.”
– ‘China a closed society’
When asked about the US-led Quad security alliance, Bansal claimed that it is “more about economics than anything else.” The alliance also includes Australia, India, and Japan.
“Quad is a grouping of democracies to probably ensure rules-based order,” he added.
“We have always believed that there should be an international mechanism for resolving disputes, particularly in the oceans, and we expect all global powers to do so,” he said.
“Any country’s rise is okay,” the Indian expert said of China’s growing economic and military power. “But with China’s rise, the problem is that it is a closed society, and in a closed society, very often, there is an absence of transparency.”
“China’s rise has never been peaceful, and that is one of the issues a single party state that exists in China, there have been some cumulus … there are some concerns. We (Indians) feel culturally India and China have good relations despite some setbacks,” he said, predicting that the “two Asian powers can collaborate in the future.”
- Defense collaboration with Türkiye
Türkiye and India are foundational “secular democracies” that “logically” bring the two countries together, allowing for robust opportunities in bilateral relations, said Bansal.
“We have ideological affinity and convergence that should logically bring Türkiye and India together,” he explained.
“But it has not happened… firstly due to the Cold War era, and then, of course, because of historical reasons that the two countries have not come together,” he added.
He did, however, say because of their historical ties, the collaboration between the two countries allows them to expand trade and enjoy other benefits.
“We have a huge arena in collaboration,” said Bansal, noting that the construction sector in India allows for further engagement by the Turkish construction sector, which is a world leader.
Noting that bilateral trade between Türkiye and India has increased by over $10 billion on annual basis, Bansal said: “we want more and more companies to come.”
“The two countries can also collaborate in the field of defense and in the field of renewable energy (where) the (two) countries are making giant strides,” Bansal said, citing pharmaceutical and information technology sectors as priority areas for collaboration.
He said the potential of bilateral trade is huge because the current $10 billion volume is not based on oil, preferential, or free trade agreements.
He described the bilateral trade as “competitive and complementary.”
“There is a robust opportunity for relations; very often political reasons tiny the economic potential,” he said.
– ‘S400 is coming to India’
Bansal said Russia’s S400 air defense was “evaluated and selected by Indian defense forces as suitable air defense weapon for India.”
“And we are going ahead with it,” he said, adding, “We have told the US that a country has the right to pursue its own defense policies.”
Since India has “never been a member of any military alliance,” the Indian expert argued, adding, “We are free to follow our own decisions.”
Earlier, the Soviet Union, now Russia, was India’s single largest supplier of foreign military equipment.
“The Government of India has made it very, very clear that S400 is coming,” he added.
The US has deterred its allies from buying the highly sophisticated Russian air defense system with sanctions known as CAATSA. India is a major ally of Washington in the Asia-Pacific region but is also a customer of Moscow’s air defense system.
In response to whether India is mulling to access Eurasia, he said New Delhi is “interested in access to the Eurasian heartland,” but that “Pakistan has not allowed India access to either Afghanistan or Central Asia.”
“Any trade corridor that takes India to Central Asia or the Caucasus is always desirable, and India would definitely access to the Eurasian heartland, which has been denied to it because Pakistan does not allow access to Indian goods,” he claimed, adding that India is looking at options including North-South Corridor and Chabahar Port in Iran.