Sino-Indo Relations Should Remain Rationality, Controlling Emotion is Very Important

July 11, 2020 09:04 AM

2020 marks the 70th anniversary of the formal establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China. The two countries arranged 70 celebrations at the end of last year. However, the COVID outbreak seems to have changed the direction of the interaction between the two countries, and many celebration activities were suspended due to this pandemic. Not only that, but bad news has recently come from the Sino-Indian border.

Although border conflicts are not new, the current pandemic raging through the globe and the turbulent international relations made it more difficult for the two countries to manage the crisis. As we all know, it is not only the material interests that only affect the interaction between the two countries, but also many non-material factors as well. These include differences in ideologies, strategic thinking, psychological environment, and various emotions during the interaction and etc. And the latter is sometimes even more important than the material interests. At present, it is unlikely that the border conflict will be out of control and develop into a larger crisis, but the negative emotions it brings to bilateral relations may have a negative impact on the overall relationship for a long period of time. What’s more, if this emotion cannot be effectively controlled, it may further increase the complexity and difficulty of the current border issues.

The border confrontation between India and China in the Ladakh region has lasted for nearly two months. At present, tensions are being eased when the leaders of two countries have dealt with it calmly at the diplomatic level. However, this crisis occurred during the pandemic, which added new uncertain factors to the crisis management, including the fear that COVID brought to people, the obstruction of many conventional communication channels and other interferences. As a result, the current conflict has received great attention from all parties. Although the officials of the two countries did not show excessively negative or pessimistic emotions, such emotions have spread in the media circles, as well as think tank community of both countries. This has increased the "negative atmosphere" in the interaction between the two countries. Obviously, it is not conducive to resolve the current struggle, and may even induce the security dilemma of both parties to rise into severe hostility, increasing the risk of decision makers misjudge and misact to the situation.

Therefore, emotional management should be listed as a priority issue by both China and India. As we all know, India and China opened an informal meeting between the leaders of the two countries after the Donglang crisis, and it played a key role in easing the negative sentiments of both countries. Although the two countries did not sign any agreement or issue any joint statement during the Wuhan Summit, the summit meeting itself sent a positive signal to the outside world. For now, the pandemic is likely to prevent both parties from enabling this meeting mechanism in the short term. Fortunately, the two countries have opened talks at the rank of lieutenant general, which has a certain effect on easing tensions between the two sides. Nevertheless, neither country has announced the results of this meeting. It is expected that it may be difficult to completely resolve the issue and to reverse the current negative atmosphere of China-India relations. In this regard, it is necessary for both countries to develop more new channels and new ways to do a better job at emotional management during and after the engagement, including establishing effective new channels for information dissemination and communication. In addition, the "cloud meeting" (online meeting) of senior leaders may also be considered as an alternative option.

It is worth emphasizing that emotional management should not only be used for crisis management on both sides, it should also be put on the agenda of both countries’ long-term relationship. In addition to the need to manage negative emotions, overly optimistic emotions also deserve vigilance. Because overly optimistic emotions are prone to "fantasy friendship", and once this "fantasy friendship" cannot stand the test of reality, it may cause a psychological gap and insecurity between the two sides, thereby increasing the trust crisis and even harming the relationship.

In recent years, China-India relations have experienced ups and downs, showing the complexity and fragility of China-India relations. Keeping both sides rational and avoiding emotional thinking is a prerequisite for ensuring a healthy relationship between the two countries. On the one hand, it is necessary for both parties to recognize that the differences in interests between the two countries are real, especially on the border issue. Since the border issue involves the core interests of both parties, it is normal to fail to resolve it in the short term. And it is certain that even if this crisis can be resolved, confrontations between the two sides in the border area will still occur frequently. In this regard, the two countries should create a more complete crisis management and control mechanism in order to cope with various risks and challenges in the future. On the other hand, both parties should also realize that the two countries have common interests. For example, in the face of challenges such as pandemic, climate warming, natural disasters, and deterioration of the ecological environment, all stakeholders, including India and China, have a common destiny and should respond jointly.

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