Avoidable unpleasantness has recently crept into India-China relations over issues which should not have been over-dramatised by China thereby injecting a certain distrust into the relations which had been progressing well despite continuing differences over the border dispute between the two countries.
“¦that their hard-hitting comments on India were viewed by many in India as the conscious adoption of a two-edged policy by the Chinese authorities on Indias relations with Vietnam and its perceived activism in the South China Sea.
China’s unhappiness over the participation of an Indian Government-owned oil company in off-shore oil/gas exploration in three blocks in the South China Sea area belonging to Vietnam sovereignty over which is claimed by China was the starting point of this unpleasantness.
Chinese official spokesmen took care to be measured in their comments on the participation of the Indian company so that the issue did not have an uncontrollably adverse effect on the bilateral relations. Similar care not to over-dramatise the Chinese unhappiness was evident in Chinese official comments after the recent meeting between Prime Ministers Dr.Manmohan Singh and Wen Jiabao in the margins of the East Asia summit at Bali in Indonesia.
This salutary restraint was unfortunately not evident in two commentaries on Sino-Indian relations disseminated by the party-owned “Global Times” and the Government-owned Xinhua news agency. In view of the Party ownership of the “Global Times” and the State ownership of Xinhua, it is natural that their hard-hitting comments on India were viewed by many in India as the conscious adoption of a two-edged policy by the Chinese authorities on India’s relations with Vietnam and its perceived activism in the South China Sea. This two-edged policy was seen by many in India as marked by seeming official restraint and semi-official anti-Indian virulence.
The increasing assertion of the Indian will to defend and promote its interests without impinging on those of China”¦
The hiccups over India’s firm, but gentle assertion of its right to help Vietnam in oil/gas exploration without taking a stand on the merits of the dispute between China and Vietnam over the question of sovereignty over the South China Sea islands have been aggravated by another instance of over-dramatisation by the Chinese of their objection to the proposed participation by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in a global Buddhist conference being held by a non-governmental foundation at New Delhi from November 27 to 30 coinciding with the 2600th anniversary of the Enlightenment of Buddha.
It is understood that the Chinese initially objected to the participation of His Holiness in the conference and subsequently to the conference itself. It so happened that the dates of the conference coincided with the 15th round of the talks on the pending border issue between the Special Representatives of the Prime Ministers of the two countries which was proposed to be held at New Delhi on November 28 and 29. This round has now been postponed without any fresh dates being fixed because of the reported Chinese unhappiness over the Buddhist conference and the participation of His Holiness in it.