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Can Track II Efforts Reduce China-India Frontier Tensions?

In Asia, Being a World Citizen, Conflict Resolution, Cultural Bridges, Current Events, NGOs, Solidarity, The Search for Peace, Track II, United Nations on July 3, 2020 at 7:52 AM

By René Wadlow

 

In a June 24, 2020 message to the Secretary General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Mr. Vladimir Novov, the Association of World Citizens (AWC) expressed its active concern with the June 15 death of Indian and Chinese military in the Galwan River Valley in Ladakh on the India-China frontier and the possibility that the tensions will increase. While there have been brief discussions among Indian and Chinese authorities to prevent escalation, there have been no real negotiations. Negotiation is a basic political decision-making process, to facilitate compromise without loss of essential objectives.

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The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said on June 25 that since early May, the Chinese have been amassing a large contingent of troops and arms along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Also, within India, there has been a good deal of media attention, highly critical of China, given to the events. In addition, there have been calls for a boycott of Chinese goods, and some Chinese products have been removed from Indian shops. Both Indian and Chinese spokespersons have made references to the 1962 war during which some 2,000 persons were killed.

The AWC believes that there is a need for prompt measures as the India-China tensions add to existing tensions between the USA and China as well as boundary issues with Asian States in the South China Sea.

There may be a role for “Track II” nongovernmental efforts and exchanges. Track I is official government to government diplomacy among instructed representative of States, usually diplomats from the Foreign Ministry. However, governments have a range of officials on whom to call: intelligence agencies, the military, and “friends of the President” – trusted individuals within the executive entourage.

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Track II efforts are organized through nongovernmental organizations and sometimes by academic institutions. Such efforts can entail informal, behind the scene communications that take place in the absence of formal communication channels. The term “Track II” was coined by the U. S. diplomat Joseph Montville in The Arrow and the Olive Branch: A Case for Track II Diplomacy.

Track II efforts have grown as there is increasing recognition that there is a tragic disjunction between the United Nations tension-reduction mandate and its ability to intervene in conflicts when called upon. As Adam Curle, experienced in Quaker mediation efforts has written “In general governments achieve their results because they have power to influence events, including the ability to reward or to punish. Paradoxically, the strength of civilian peacemakers resides specifically in their lack of power. They are neither feared nor courted for what they can do. Instead, they are trusted and so may sometimes be enabled to play a part in peacemaking denied to most official diplomats.”

Those involved in Track II efforts must, nevertheless, have ready access to governmental decision-makers and Track I diplomats. As the World Citizen and Quaker economist Kenneth Boulding in a little verse writes,

“When Track One will not do,
We have to travel on Track Two
But for results to be abiding,
The Tracks must meet upon some siding”.

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In the China-India frontier tensions, both sides must be convinced that there is a considerable sentiment for peace among their own supporters. In this conflict, which could slip into greater violence, there is an understandable tendency to look for short term answers. Yet there is also a need for some involved in Track II efforts to have an over-all integrated perspective for both short as well as long-term transformation. Thus, there needs to be a “pool” of people with experience, skills and the ability to move fast when the need or the opportunity is there?

We are sure that there are groups in India and China which can rise to meet this challenge.

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

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