Regional Rivals India, China Seek ‘Common Ground’ on Neighbor Afghanistan

Regional military and economic rivals India and China are trying to put their differences aside in an effort to find a “common ground” on dealing with Afghanistan.

In recent months, Indian news agencies have accused China of carrying out military patrols inside Afghanistan, allegations that Beijing had denied.

Meanwhile, the Hindu learned from unnamed Indian official sources that during his visit to Beijing last week, India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar looked for a “common ground” on the issue of Afghanistan.

China appeared to be “open to finding solutions,” one official reportedly said.

India’s Jaishankar discussed Afghanistan and other regional issues with Chinese executive Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Yesui.

A senior official told the Hindu that both sides seemed willing to “stabilize India-China relations” at a time when the international community finds itself facing “volatility.”

Despite their economic rivalry, India and China also talked about the possibility of “joint development projects” in other parts of Asia, outside Afghanistan, revealed the Hindu.

The Indian officials’ visit to Beijing comes soon after the Times of India reported that New Delhi is trying to take advantage of recent U.S.-China tensions by expanding its role in Asia.

India is taking a chance in Asia despite the fact that the balance of power between New Delhi and Beijing is currently tipping in China’s favor.

For one, China is actively exploiting Pakistan’s rivalry with India to keep New Delhi’s influence contained, providing military and economic support to India’s other regional competitor, Pakistan.

Moreover, India lags behind China in defense spending, according to the research firm IHS Markit.

China holds second place after the United States while India finds itself in fourth place.

Nevertheless, while the same cannot be said about China, the Times of India noted that “India, thus far, appears to be on the right side of the new [President Donald] Trump administration and this gives it an interesting insight into Washington, these countries feel.”

As security conditions unraveled in recent years, primarily at the hands of the Taliban, Afghanistan requested military aid from India and China on top of the billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer funds that continue to be devoted to its security.

New Delhi and Beijing responded to Afghanistan’s cry for help. China shares a border with both Afghanistan and India.

Afghanistan borders the autonomous region of Xinjiang, home to the largest concentration of Muslim Uighur minority group members in China, but it does not share an international boundary with India.


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