The scheduled talks between China and India over border issues at the end of November were temporarily postponed. While speculations about this decision are varied, one thing is certain: India, whose GDP is a third of China's, has been maintaining a bold stance when dealing with China. Indian public opinion will not permit concessions to China, but China will not yield to India's demand on border issues either.
This is where the dilemma is. Both sides must keep the border issue from worsening by focusing on keeping goodwill talks alive and being mindful of the consequences of a sudden breakdown.
Currently, India is a bit pushy in its relations with China. The country appears to be highly interested in facing off with China. But that contest is not the primary focus of the Chinese society.
Both China and India have been feeling anxious about being "circled." But their roles are different in each other's eyes. For India, China is the plotter and executor of this "scheme," whereas for China, India is a participant to this theory. The insecurity from both countries is not on the same level.
Nationalistic sentiment is strong in India. It claims that India is on the "first tier" of the world even though the country is still developing. India has been eagerly seeking this acknowledgement worldwide. Although the US has given the country a first tier diplomatic formality, the "elephant" is not satisfied. What it really wants is the first-tier growth rate and statistics that match China's.
However, China rarely thinks of India when it plans its economy. While it is predictable that India will get excited when their GDP growth outpaces China one day, it is hard to say whether China will feel any sadness at this result.
This does not imply that China does not take India seriously. If India can maintain its current economic growth rate, it will only become increasingly important to China.
India will not allow itself to stay quietly between the US and China. It wants to play triangle affairs with the duo, and will do anything it can to maximize its benefit out of it.
Therefore, China will find it hard to buy India over. It needs to treat the South Asia country seriously.
The US has been persuading India to join its alliance against China, and issues between China and India, such as border disputes and the Dalai Lama, are difficult to solve. Therefore, China's relation with India will face a tough road ahead. But India's ambition of becoming a strong power, as well as its economy-driven policy, will help stave off these uncertainties. This ensures that China's relations with India will not be the worst among neighboring countries.
Both countries should stay calm and not take small issues to a level of strategic hostility. India's power and its development will not make it a strategic enemy to China.
News media in New Delhi have been making stories from unreliable sources to advocate the so-called "China threat theory." Both countries should avoid overreacting to their disputes, but that does not mean these issues should be hidden away.
What we need to do is not aggravate it.