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Nature of neighbors' relations

By WANG HUI | China Daily | Updated: 2018-02-06 07:46

Given the sensitivity of China-India ties after last summer's trespassing across the border by Indian troops, it is no surprise that the Indian defense minister's recent visit to military posts along the border has provoked Chinese concerns.

Yet the popularity of a new Bollywood movie among Chinese filmgoers highlights the warmth of relations between the peoples of the two countries.

On Saturday, Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited forward posts along the China-India border, where Indian media reports say she was briefed on their operational preparedness. Considering that Indian and Chinese troops were locked in a two-month standoff in Donglang from June to August last year, an event that put a freeze on bilateral ties, the move has, not surprisingly, been interpreted as India showing it is taking a hard-line stance on the border issue.

But while Sitharaman's border visit has revived the strategic mistrust and suspicions between the two sides, Indian film star Aamir Khan has opened another window on ties, one that offers a more upbeat perspective of relations between the two peoples.

Khan's latest film Secret Superstar has taken Chinese audiences by storm, and Chinese filmgoers' appreciation of Khan's performance is clear evidence that Chinese people bear no ill-will toward their neighbors.

India should appreciate that after last summer's standoff this is not the time to test China's bottom line on the sensitive border issue, because any misstep and misjudgment could easily trigger another round of tensions.

But there is really no reason why the two sides cannot continue to deepen the bonds of friendship that exist between the two peoples and seek to resolve the issues that threaten to drive a wedge between them. Certainly, the fundamental foundations of the relationship between the two countries remain strong.

To this end, cultural exchanges and economic cooperation, rather than deliberate provocations on sensitive issues, are a much better choice for the two neighbors to build good momentum in their relations.


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