Terming India’s relationship with China as “more complex”, national security adviser (NSA) Shivshanker Menon said the two countries have managed to maintain the equilibrium needed for peace and stability despite differences.
“The matter of our dealing with China is more complex… There are certainly issues between us, as there will be between two neighbours who are growing and changing so rapidly. We try to maintain the dynamic equilibrium in the relationship needed for peace, stability and predictability. So far, we have both managed to do so successfully,” he said.
Addressing the Sardar Patel Memorial lecture, the NSA said as early as 1950, the then home minister Sardar Patel had flagged the issue of improving border management after the Chinese Army entered Tibet.
He said the points raised by Patel in a letter to then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru were designed to strengthen India. “This indeed is still our agenda. It is precisely these areas that we have made progress in the last decade, more, I dare say than in any single decade before this one,” he said.
Menon said Patel died soon after writing the letter and its contents could not be discussed with Nehru.
“One of the fascinating ‘what if’ questions in our history is the course that events would have taken with China if we had acted on Patel’s suggestions when they were made,” he said.
Referring to the Chinese border, he said the area has been relatively peaceful since 1962 war as “we are careful to maintain equilibrium or prevent the emergence of a significant imbalance and a political context in which neither side finds the costs of changing the status quo attractive”.
He pointed that since 1988, the two countries have developed a broader relationship with China being India’s largest trading partner in goods.