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Hi,This is Hot Mic and I’m Nidhi Razdan. India has been getting a steady stream of foreign visitors since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The Americans were here. The Brits are coming. The Israelis will follow. The list is pretty endless. And then there was the Chinese Foreign Minister in one of the most bizarre visits in recent memory. It was supposed to be a hush-hush visit. The first to Delhi by a senior Chinese leader since the Galwan Valley clash in Ladakh at the Line of Actual Control two years ago. In that clash, 20 Indian soldiers and several Chinese soldiers were killed. Neither side announced Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit which is very unusual. But the secrecy was blown through media reports and journalists who tracked the Chinese Foreign Minister’s flight on apps like Flight radar. Over the last two years, China and India have held 15 rounds of talks at the military level but they have had little success. China has brazenly transgressed into Indian territory and continues to occupy parts of it. There has been only some disengagement, but today also around 50,000 troops are amassed on either side of the LAC even now. On the eve of his India trip, New Delhi strongly rebuked Wang Yi for comments that he also made on Kashmir while attending a meeting of the Organization of Islamic Conference in Islamabad. In an unusually strong statement, India even said that it refrains from making public comments about China’s internal matters. But Wang Yi flew to New Delhi anyway. And it begged the question – why? If China was serious in creating an enabling environment for better ties with India, these provocative statements wouldn’t have been made in the first place. More importantly, they should have come with a serious proposal to disengage their troops at the border. But they didn’t. India had already made it clear, only days earlier, that it cannot be business as usual with Beijing until the status quo is restored at the border. In fact, that message was strongly reiterated by the Prime Minister in his virtual summit with the Australian PM. So why then did Wang come to India and why did New Delhi host him? One major reason is the BRICS summit, which China is planning to host in person later this year. BRICS countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. China is keen for Prime Minister Modi to attend in person.The problem is Beijing wants it to be business as usual with India, despite the problems at the border. While New Delhi is clear that that is not going to happen. Just see the Chinese statement after Wang Yi’s talks with Foreign Minister Jaishankar in Delhi. They said “China and India should adhere to a long term vision win-win thinking and a cooperation attitude.” It also said “India and China should put the differences on the border issue in an appropriate position in bilateral relations and stick to the correct development direction of bilateral relations.” In other words, forget what we’ve done at the border, let’s just move on and talk about trade, meat and do all the normal stuff.Now, that’s where New Delhi has put its foot down and snubbed China. Foreign Minister Jaishankar told the media that “is our relationship normal today? My answer to you is, no, it’s not, and it cannot be normal if the situation in the border areas is abnormal and surely the presence of a large number of troops there in contravention of agreements is abnormality.” As things stand, it would be difficult for the Prime Minister to attend the BRICS summit and meet President Xi Jinping in person. The last time they met face to face was in November 2019 for the BRICS summit in Brazil. Only a month before that, Xi had come to India for an informal summit. Indian officials believe that if China is so keen for Modi to visit, they will resolve the border issue before that. They did it in Doklam just before the BRICS summit in Xiamen in 2017. Russia’s war in Ukraine and the new geopolitical dynamics it has thrown up are also a factor. Superficially India and China are on the same page when it comes to Russia, but for different reasons.India is heavily dependent on Russian weapons, which it ironically needs to defend against China. China, on the other hand, has described its friendship with Russia as one that has no limits. And for that, Beijing is facing the ire of the West, especially the United States. Which is why it may be trying to find common cause with India. For New Delhi, though, the bottom line is clear – the biggest threat in the neighbourhood comes from China and there is a long road to building even some trust again.



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