On April 1 this year, the diplomatic lines between New Delhi and Beijing were clogged with messages of peace and friendship. Exactly 70 years ago, India had done what seemed unthinkable for a non-socialist bloc country at the time—it recognised the government of the Communist Party of China which had only the previous year overthrown the Chinese Nationalist Party. In his letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping in April, President Ram Nath Kovind observed how the two sides had “made considerable progress especially in the last few years in enhancing our bilateral engagements in a number of areas, including political, economic and people-to-people ties”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his message to Chinese premier Li Keqiang, referred to the two countries as two ancient civilisations with a long history of mutually beneficial exchanges over centuries and looked at taking the development partnership to greater heights.
If it had not been for the coronavirus pandemic, which spilled out of Wuhan and infected the world, leading to a nationwide lockdown in India, there would have been a series of events to celebrate the anniversary.
Indian generals were secretly delighted at how the ‘Wuhan Spirit’—the informal summits between President Xi and Prime Minister Modi (named for the site of their first informal summit in 2018)—had bought them time to focus on Pakistan and the infrastructure of terrorism. It was quite likely this heady spirit that masked the intent and concealed the dust clouds of the two People’s Liberation Army (PLA) motorised divisions moving towards the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh in late April.
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August 17, 2020