Indian and Chinese national flags flutter side by side at the Raisina hills in New Delhi, India, in this file photo. [Photo/Xinhua]
It is now more than two months since the deadly clash in Galwan Valley on the China-India border, and diplomatic negotiations and five rounds of military talks have failed to produce any clear signs of a de-escalation of tensions.
It is therefore understandable that the visit to the border area by Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is also China's special representative in the border talks with India, during a trip to the Tibet autonomous region on Friday has prompted a great deal of speculation.
According to a brief statement issued by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wang visited the border area to investigate the poverty alleviation work and border infrastructure. And speaking with local officials, he urged them to support Tibet's opening-up to the outside world while ensuring the autonomous region's long-term stability in the face of the unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic.
"To govern the country well we must first govern the frontiers well, and to govern the frontiers well, we must first ensure stability in Tibet," President Xi Jinping said in 2013. It is therefore natural that the Chinese leadership should pay particular attention to the situation in the autonomous region at present.
Even with the withdrawal of Chinese troops from Galwan Valley and other locations along the border, New Delhi has been making aggressive moves that belie its proclaimed willingness to work with Beijing to seek a peaceful settlement of the border disputes through talks and negotiations, while Washington is seeking to integrate New Delhi into its "maximum pressure" campaign against Beijing.
Politicians in New Delhi need little encouragement from Washington, as they are well-known for using the country's border disputes to whip up nationalistic sentiment for political gains, even at the expense of good relations with its neighbors. And with India now the country with the third highest number of novel coronavirus infections, after the United States and Brazil, it is no wonder that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to divert attention from what is happening at home.
India's total number of infections surpassed 2.7 million on Thursday, with the number of COVID-19 deaths topping 51,000. The country is in dire need of financial inputs to boost its testing, treatment, prevention and control measures. Yet the government has just spent an estimated $9.4 billion to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.
As close neighbors, the sound development of bilateral relations serves not only the long-term interests of China and India, but also peace and stability in the region and beyond. New Delhi should stop its belligerent maneuvers on the border and meet Beijing half way to build mutual trust and properly handle their differences.
As Wang highlighted, Tibet has played a major role in developing economic and trade relations with neighboring countries. New Delhi should work with Beijing to tap the potential offered by the Belt and Road Initiative.