ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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An Unaffordable Game

Neorealists on both sides have yet again constrained India-China relations within the old rules of the game.

Neorealists continue to call the tune in the highest policy circles, think tanks and the media in India and China. They found their moment when Chinese President Xi Jinping came calling on 17-19 September. The visit brought into full play power games by the two sides thereby denying the potential for a growing partnership between the two countries.

There are mixed images from President Xi Jinping’s visit. There was the colourful reception in Ahmedabad which conveyed warmth and hospitality. But there were also the pictures of the face-off between the Chinese and Indian personnel in Chumar in Ladakh in the disputed zone of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), both sides carrying banners claiming that it was their territory. A similar incident took place in April 2013 in Depsang on the eve of the visit of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and there was the case of stapled visas for residents of Jammu and Kashmir or earlier Chinese pronouncements of their claim to Arunachal Pradesh. The Chumar development was raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad following which the Chinese personnel withdrew, but only to return the day after Xi departed for Beijing. Clearly, the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs, which came into being following an agreement signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China in October 2013, is not functioning, otherwise the Chumar incident would not have happened.

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