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Why is China-Russia-India strategic triangle not viable now?

By Zhang Yi
According to Indian media, China has turned down a Russian proposal to bring defense ministers of India, Russia and China together on one platform which was scheduled to take place later this month.
Source media reports claimed that Beijing took this decision keeping the sensitivities of Pakistan in mind. China has also voiced strong opposition to the recent visit by exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama to Tawang, a disputed region on the China-India border.
China has not conveyed any direct messages to India on this subject. But the question of whether it is a suitable time to form an architecture of a security cooperation among the three regional powers remains to be addressed.
The notion of a trilateral strategic triangle was mooted by former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov in 1998. It triggered heated discussion in the West, especially the US which later formed other strategic trilateral forums in the Asia-Pacific region such as US-India-Japan and US-India-Australia.
With the absence of a trilateral security pattern involving Russia, China and India which are located in a single geopolitical space, the development of a strategic triangle would be however unrealistic now, given the mutual distrust between China and India.
India has long regarded China as a threat as it feels both are contesting for supremacy in regions such as South Asia and Southeast Asia and are vying for the same markets worldwide. Meanwhile, apart from India’s concerns over China’s relations with Pakistan, the border dispute remains another thorny issue. In spite of regular joint working group meetings and ministerial meetings between the two sides, there has been no substantial progress on the border issue.
The latest Dalai Lama episode has further intensified the tensions between the two. During his visit to Tawang, the Dalai Lama and “Arunachal Pradesh” (South Tibet of China) Chief Minister Pema Khandu made provocative political statements, which exceeded the scope of religious activities. India has not only disregarded China’s territorial sovereignty, but also violated the political basis of Sino-Indian ties.
Objectively speaking, among the relations among China, Russia and India, the relations between China and India are relatively weak. The India-Russia relationship in the past couple of decades had seen ups and downs, but it was able to stabilize and go back to normal thereafter. The ties between China and Russia have also been on a fast track given the bonhomie of the recent years.
The idea of the China-Russia-India strategic triangle need not be viewed as futile since an active and positive global role of the three countries could contribute to a more just and balanced world order that China has been promoting. But the basis of such a triangle is that the parties concerned respect the national interests of the others, which India should particularly take note of.
(Global Times)

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