India and China achieved a significant milestone this year when their bilateral trade crossed the historic mark of $100 billion. However, it did not find any specific mention in the capitals of the two countries as relations between the two big countries of Asia are going through a “particularly bad phase” due to the military standoff in eastern Ladakh due to violation of agreements by Beijing. Bilateral trade between India and China started at $1.83 billion in 2001. It crossed the $100 billion mark in the first 11 months of this year, which is an important milestone.
The two countries have made efforts to make trade a major channel to improve relations, but relations have been strained due to border disputes and strategic rivalry. According to data from the General Administration of Customs (GAC) of China last month, India-China bilateral trade grew 46.4 per cent year-on-year from January to November 2021 to $114.263 billion. India’s exports to China grew by 38.5 percent year-on-year to $26.358 billion and India’s imports from China grew by 49.00 percent to $87.905 billion.
Silence even after reaching record level of business
However, while bilateral trade crossed the $100 billion mark, the 11-month-long trade deficit, a major concern for India, grew 53.49 per cent year-on-year to $61.547 billion. Trade reaching a record level did not receive any special attention from the two countries as bilateral ties have been strained over the military standoff in eastern Ladakh. The border standoff between the armies of India and China began on May 5 last year after violent clashes in the Pangong Lake area. Later, both sides gradually increased their deployment to thousands of soldiers with heavy weapons.
About fifty thousand soldiers are face to face on the border
As a result of a series of military and diplomatic talks, the two sides completed the process of withdrawing troops from the Gogra region in August and the north and south bank areas of Pangong Lake in February. The 12th round of talks between the two sides was held on 31 July. A few days later, both the armies had completed the process of retreating from Gogra. It was seen as an important step towards restoring peace in the region. At present, more than fifty-fifty thousand soldiers are deployed from both the countries along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in this mountainous region.
Ladakh standoff has no effect on trade ties
A glimmer of hope in this conflict was that the two sides kept in touch at the level of foreign ministers, top military commanders as well as through the WMCC (Working Mechanism for Consultancy and Coordination) to keep tensions under control. Relations were affected on all fronts except trade due to the Ladakh standoff. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said during a panel discussion in Singapore in November that India and China were going through a “particularly bad phase” in their relations as Beijing has taken several steps in violation of agreements for which its There is no ‘credible explanation’ yet.
China violated the agreement
“We are going through a particularly bad phase in our relationship because they have taken steps in violation of agreements for which they still have no credible explanation,” he said, indirectly referring to the eastern Ladakh border standoff. Is. This signals some rethinking about where they want our relationship to take, but they have to answer for that.
Chinese Foreign Minister spoke at the farewell ceremony of the Indian Ambassador
Moreover, former Ambassador of India to China Vikram Misri had told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during his farewell ceremony held digitally on December 6 that the challenges had overtaken the vast potential of Sino-India relations. “Our relationship contains both opportunities and challenges,” Misri told Wang, indirectly pointing to the Ladakh standoff, even though some challenges have overshadowed the prospects of the relationship since last year.
Had emerged from Doklam that Ladakh dispute started
The deployment turned out to be the toughest diplomatic challenge for Misri, who took over as India’s ambassador to Beijing in January 2019. The two countries came out of the Doklam standoff of 2017 after the first informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan in 2018 and then the second informal summit in Chennai in 2019. However, bilateral relations were again affected by the East Ladakh standoff.
There were many expectations from the Chennai summit
In his informal interaction with the media before leaving for New Delhi, Misri recalled how high the expectations were from the Chennai summit. He highlighted the important initiatives that Modi and Xi had agreed to implement. The two countries had decided to establish a High Level Economic and Trade Dialogue (HETD) mechanism. It was expected that it would look into all issues related to bilateral trade and trade cooperation, including India’s concerns regarding trade deficit.
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