India China Strategic Dialogue, We need to be pragmatic in our expectations, says Lt Gen S L Narasimhan (Retd)


India’s Foreign Secretary Dr S Jaishankar is in Beijing this week for the strategic dialogue between both the countries. It is part of his three nation tour, the other countries being Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Many in the media have reported this as the first strategic dialogue between India and China. The first strategic dialogue took place between Mr Shyam Saran, the then Foreign Secretary and Mr Wu Dawei, the then Chinese Vice Foreign Minister in January 2005.Thereafter, almost every Indian Foreign Secretary has held such talks with their Chinese counterparts. However, this is the first Strategic Dialogue under the enhanced format that was decided during Mr Wang Yi, the Foreign Minister of China’s visit to India.

Whenever such talks are held, the expectations for positive outcomes, on contentious issues between both the countries, run very high. Such expectations are based on emotions and not realpolitik.  This time around also such an expectation is prevalent.

A section of the media has said that India should pitch for the visit of Chinese Premier to India. What needs to be understood is that the relations between Mr Xi Jinping, President of China and Mr Li Keqiang, the Premier are not in the pink of health at the moment. There are rumours that the latter could either be changed or moved upwards as Chairman of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. In October this year, the representatives of the National People’s Congress (NPC) will gather in Beijing. A major reshuffle in the leadership is expected as many of the present leaders would have reached the age ceiling. This is not the right time to invite any leader from China other than Mr Xi Jinping himself.




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