China, India ri­valry looms

Sun.Star Cebu - - BUSINESS -

China and India may have ended a tense bor­der stand­off for now, but their long­stand­ing ri­valry raises ques­tions about the pos­si­bil­ity of mean­ing­ful co­op­er­a­tion at an up­com­ing sum­mit of ma­jor emerg­ing economies.

The an­nual sum­mit of the BRICS group­ing en­com­pass­ing Brazil, Rus­sia, India, China and South Africa gets un­der way this week­end in the south­east­ern Chi­nese city of Xi­a­men, hop­ing to ad­vance its vi­sion of an al­ter­na­tive to the Western dom­i­nance of global af­fairs.

The lead­ers of all five na­tions are ex­pected to at­tend, of­fer­ing the best op­por­tu­nity for Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Indian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi to talk since the bor­der ten­sions flared in June. While both their coun­tries view BRICS as a sig­nif­i­cant fo­rum for progress, their ri­valry for global in­flu­ence and fears of con­tain­ment by the other threaten to over­shadow those as­pi­ra­tions.

The two coun­tries’ mil­i­taries are “prowl­ing the same spaces” along their land bor­ders, in the Indian Ocean and western Pa­cific Ocean, said Sreeram Chaulia, dean of Jin­dal School of In­ter­na­tional Af­fairs in the Indian city of Soni­pat. Even be­yond the re­gion, they are vy­ing in Africa and Latin Amer­ica “for the lead­er­ship of the de­vel­op­ing world,” Chaulia said.

“There is a con­test, whether it is ac­knowl­edged or not, and it is be­cause of the am­bi­tions of both na­tions to be su­per­pow­ers and to be in­her­it­ing the Asian cen­tury,” Chaulia said.

At­tempt­ing to start the BRICS sum­mit off on a pos­i­tive note, Beijing and Delhi on Mon­day an­nounced a res­o­lu­tion of their most pro­tracted and po­ten­tially ex­plo­sive bor­der stand­off in years. The saber-rat­tling had raised fears of re­newed con­flict be­tween the nu­clear-armed Asian giants, who fought a bloody bor­der war in 1962 and re­main locked in dis­putes over ex­ten­sive chunks of ter­ri­tory along their bor­der.

Yet, while India’s Min­istry of Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs said that troops were leav­ing the face-off site, China’s of­fi­cial re­sponse avoided any men­tion of Chi­nese con­ces­sions or the fact that troops from both sides will con­tinue pa­trolling in the area.

“The at­tempt is to paint India as the ag­gres­sor,” said Sri­parna Pathak, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at As­sam Don Bosco Univer­sity in the north­east­ern Indian state of As­sam. /

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