The following editorial appeared recently in the Kansas City Star:
India and China together account for about 38 percent of the world's 7-billion-plus population. Because these Asian giants share a border, the whole planet holds its breath if they are at each other's throats, as they were again earlier this month.
Chinese and Indian troops faced off in a border dispute in the remote Ladakh region of the rugged Himalayas, where the exact location of the boundary between the two powers has never been clear. After the Indian foreign minister, Salman Khurshid, threatened to cancel a previously scheduled diplomatic trip to Beijing, troops eventually backed off and something like calm returned.
Khurshid made his trip to Beijing, and as a result both Indian and Chinese diplomats said they would work together to prevent similar disputes in the future. But that's not the only good news. More high-level diplomatic visits are scheduled for this year. Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang is to travel to India on May 20, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India is to visit Beijing later this year.
It clearly is in the interest of the United States to encourage India and China to resolve disputes peacefully, although our diplomats must recognize that internal realities in each country sometimes make that difficult.
India seems constantly to be dealing not just with partisan politics that sometimes get ugly but also with fragile Muslim-Hindu relations that at times deteriorate into violence.
China has been through a recent period of internal political instability and transition, though now Beijing's leadership, headed by "Paramount Leader" Xi Jinping, appears settled.
The governments of both countries suffer from insecurities, which can lead to miscalculations in international relations. But this is an opportune time for India and China to show off their diplomatic progress. A world with so many other hot spots to worry about would be greatly relieved not to have to keep a nervous eye on the Indian-Chinese border.
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