Engaging China in Modi 3.0

Context: It has been 4 years since Galwan valley clashes in which the Forces of China and India locked horns in the high altitudes of Himalayas. As PM Modi has returned to power for the third time, there is a need to look at how India will engage with China in Modi 3.0

Developments in India-China relations:

  • Managing the relationship with China is the most pressing challenge for the Modi government in its third term. About 50,000 to 60,000 troops are still deployed on each side of the border.
  • In a pre-election interview, PM Modi had remarked that stable and peaceful relations with China are important not just for the countries, but for the whole world.
    • China responded positively to the overture and said that India-China ties are “more than border situation” and China wishes to maintain relations from “strategic heights and long-term perspectives.”
  • EAM S. Jaishankar remarked that the primarily revolved around “patrolling rights” and “patrolling abilities”.
    • Limiting the dispute to “patrolling rights” and “patrolling abilities” can be seen as a nuancing of the Indian position, pivoting away from the earlier stance of “disengagement” and “de-escalation”.


  • Issue of Taiwan: Exchange of messages between the Prime Minister and Taiwan’s President Lai Ching-Te with respect to deepening cooperation trade, technology, peace, and stability in Indio-Pacific on the social media platform angered the Chinese as they saw it as provocation.
    • China saw it as deviation from One-China Policy.
  • Tibet: A seven-member bipartisan delegation of the United States Congress met the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, the former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remarked that while the Tibetan spiritual leader’s “legacy will live forever”, Xi will “be gone and nobody will give him credit for anything”.
    • China reacted sharply, and “urged” US to “adhere to its commitments of recognizing Xizang as part of China and not supporting “Xizang independence”.
    • Recently, US Congress has also passed “Resolve Tibet Act”. 
      • Resolve Tibet Act authorizes the use of funds to counter Chinese disinformation about Tibet (including disinformation about the history of Tibet, the Tibetan people, and Tibetan institutions).
      • Act also challenges the Chinese contention that Tibet has been a part of China since ancient times.
      • Act underlines the right of the Tibetan people to self-determination and human rights.

What lies ahead:

  • Some analysts believe that while India has shown its intent on resolving the border situation through the interviews given by the PM and Jaishankar, it has also sent out a signal through Pelosi’s visit to the Dalai Lama ahead of a possible meeting between Modi and Xi in Astana that in any case, India will not negotiate on a weaker stance.
  • Whereas some other analysts believe that while New Delhi had initially wanted to resolve the border situation after the Lok Sabha election, it has now changed its mind after the NDA got a weaker mandate, the government might now be wary of criticism which reconciliation might draw.

Way forward: 

  • India needs stable borders as they are key for the government to focus on its agenda for economic growth and job creation.
  • India can follow the template of ongoing engagement between Australia and China in which Australia is engaging with China at the highest level without compromising Australia’s core Interest.
  • Even though there is heightened awareness of security threat perception from China has led to the decoupling of Interests, the upcoming meet of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Astana (Kazakhstan) is likely to show someway ahead.
Share this with friends ->