Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are meeting at the sidelines of the ongoing BRICS Summit in Xiamen, China - first since the settlement of the Doklam dispute.
The leaders of the Asiatic giants have met frequently before and after the Indian prime minister took to office in 2014, but with a little less love each time.
What started as a display of bonhomie on swings, birthday banquets and mutual hometown visits has now come down to cold shakes and cancelled meetings at international conferences (think G20 at Hamburg).
This love-hate relationship between India and China's heads of states has not evolved overnight.
While the world hoped that with PM Modi and Xi Jinping at the helm (both strong leaders with backing of public mandate), two nations could finally bridge their differences, actions taken by China have soured any such possibility for the Indian side.
Apart from the pending points of contention such as Brahmaputra water sharing dispute, Arunachal Pradesh border issues and India's stand on South China Sea, several fresh issues have cropped to poison Sino-India relations since 2014:
Blocking ban on Masood Azhar
The first cracks in new found India-China bonhomie were spotted when China blocked a UN Security Council Sanctions Committee listing of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a terrorist, thwarting international efforts to disrupt the activities of his group.
China moved to protect Azhar again in October 2016 when it blocked India's appeal to the United Nations to label him as a terrorist. China also blocked US move to get Masood Azhar banned by UN in February 2017.
Masood Azhar is in India’s most wanted list for his involvement in Mumbai Terror attack and Pathonkot attack.
Blocking India’s NSG membership
In 2016 India, along with Pakistan and Namibia, applied for the membership of Nuclear Supplier’s Group. While a majority of the 48-member group backed India’s membership, China along with New Zealand, Ireland, Turkey, South Africa and Austria were opposed to India’s admission.
China insisted that India should sign NPT for NSG membership. It wants a non-discriminatory criterion for the admission of countries who have not signed NPT. However, it is an open secret that China’s resistance is to facilitate the entry of Pakistan a close ally of China.
China’s One Belt, One Road
Chinese premier Xi Jinping’s ambitious One Belt, One Road project or new Silk Road has been objected by the Indian Government.
India’s concerns stem directly out of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the Belt and Road initiative. The CPEC passes through Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir and poses a security risk for India.
In May this year, a heads of state/government summit touted by the Chinese media as the event of the year, saw no participation from India. New Delhi boycotted the event by refusing to send even an official as representative at the summit.
In a sharp statement the Ministry of External Affairs said “connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity,” accusing Beijing of violating the basic norms of engagement.
The sourness in Sino-India relations blew wide open when the Chinese troops crossed over in Bhutan’s Doklam region against the terms of settlement in triad deal and attempted to build a road.
The Chinese and the Indian troops were engaged in a standoff since June 16 after the Indian side stopped the construction of the road by the Chinese Army.On August 28, India’s External Affairs Ministry announced that New Delhi and Beijing have decided on “expeditious disengagement” of their border troops in the disputed Doklam area.
The breakthrough came just days ahead of the BRICS Summit.