China and India held the 18th round of Corps Commander Level talks on Sunday. Unlike the previous round held in December, the Sunday meeting did not conclude with a joint statement but that is reportedly because the focus of the meeting was on confidence-building measures in the coming months and avoiding confrontation at the border.
In spite of the absence of substantial progress on frontline disengagement, what matters is the talks took place and both sides have signaled their desire for de-escalation. This has further consolidated the shift from frictions and standoffs to management of the border tensions. A little more peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control is expected as a result, with the two sides apparently agreeing to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels with a view to working out a mutually-acceptable resolution of the remaining issues.
Sunday's talks were to set the stage for the likely meeting between Chinese and Indian defense ministers on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization defense ministers' meeting in New Delhi this week.
As the two most populous nations in the world, China and India are both keenly conscious of the critical importance of good-neighborly ties for their respective development aspirations. China's experience over the past decades underscores the value of a peaceful international environment for domestic prosperity.
There have been obvious external attempts to stoke tensions and sow discords in the "Indo-Pacific", especially as Washington sees India as a convenient tool in its efforts to contain China. And clearly some in India also want to exploit their country's new-found role as a geopolitical counterweight in dealing with China.
Such opportunist calculations, however, will do no good in the end, because they misread both China's sincerity for good, peaceful bilateral ties and underestimate its determination when it comes to safeguarding its territorial integrity.
Not to mention they only sink India deeper into a geostrategic pitfall. Outsiders left behind a legacy of disputed borders, and outsiders are now using it to create greater security dilemmas for India.
The two neighbors are the world's largest developing countries with a combined population of 2.8 billion, and both are committed to national development and rejuvenation. Both countries are members of the SCO and BRICS and have great potential for exchanges and cooperation in the fields of economy, social development, education, and science and technology. They also share similar positions on many regional and international issues, and have extensive common interests in South-South cooperation. There is great potential to be tapped if New Delhi can remain clear-sighted and keep outside interference at bay.