Rather than settle for the passive-aggressive—and sometimes just plain aggressive—tit for tat diplomatic bluster that has often characterized diplomatic relations between China and India recently, the Chinese ambassador to India has chosen a softer tack, penning a couple of op-eds in mainstream Indian newspapers. With the Japanese defense minister having recently wrapped up a visit to New Delhi—and with his South Korean counterpart to follow suit this month—Chinese ambassador Wei Wei has tried to emphasize India and China’s economic and historical connections. He writes in the Indian Express:
Both China and India have made important contributions to the fight against Japanese militarist aggression in WW II. Dr Kotnis and his medical team went to China and helped the Chinese people against Japanese aggression during the anti-Japanese War. The doctor even sacrificed his life in China. He is well remembered by the people of China. With assistance from the US and the United Kingdom, Indian and Chinese soldiers together fought against Japanese aggression in India. We, after suffering the invasion by Japan, should by no means forget this part of history.
And in an op-ed in The Hindu titled “Deepening Mutual Trust” he writes:
Frequent and close high-level interactions between China and India with continually strengthened strategic trust with each other. Chinese President Xi Jinping met twice with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the Durban BRICS Summit and the G20 St. Petersburg Summit to outline a grand blueprint for future development of China-India relations; Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Dr. Singh exchanged visits within one year after a lapse of nearly 60 years, during which joint statements were issued and more then 10 agreements reached. The visits resulted in comprehensive plans of pragmatic cooperation in various fields between China and India.
Given Japanese PM Shinzo Abe’s recent moves to give the Japanese military some teeth, China fears a revision in the military balance of the region, and that revision can only become stronger if Japan, South Korea and India cooperate on security and military matters–which has already started happening. From the op-eds, it seems China is offering itself to India as its prime partner at Japan’s expense. At the same time, allusions to economic instability and a rocky recovery seem to be the stick China’s holding if India doesn’t comply. The game of thrones continues.