Following a year marked by mounting tensions between China and India, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in Wuhan for an informal summit in April to reset the relationship. On the heels of their meeting, Paul Haenle sat down with C. Raja Mohan, director of Carnegie India, to discuss the implications for the future of China-India relations.
Mohan outlined major points of tension dominating China-India relations, including territorial disputes, China’s encroachment on India’s traditional sphere of influence, and Beijing’s increasingly close relations with regional rival Pakistan. He said an agreement to not escalate areas of disagreement and recognize that a stable China-India relationship would be positive forces for the region were two major takeaways from the Xi-Modi summit. On the Belt and Road Initiative, Mohan explained that while India is concerned about Chinese activity in their sphere of influence, connectivity is central to India’s national interests. This leaves space for cooperation on bilateral projects to ease India’s concerns about the initiative and build trust. Initial outcomes from the Xi-Modi summit point to encouraging developments on both sides, Mohan said. Chinese state media softened its rhetoric on India, while Indian policy reflected greater willingness to change the nature of their relationship with China. The challenge that remains, he argued, is how to translate new understandings between Xi and Modi to the bureaucratic level.
Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served from June 2007 to June 2009 as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
C. Raja Mohan
C. Raja Mohan is the former director of and a nonresident senior fellow at Carnegie India. A leading analyst of India’s foreign policy, Mohan is also an expert on South Asian security, great-power relations in Asia, and arms control. He is the foreign affairs columnist for the Indian Express, and a visiting research professor at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore. He was a member of India’s National Security Advisory Board.