Why a wave of Asian summitry

Leaders of India and China are meeting this weekend, as are those of the Koreas. Perhaps the region’s historic disputes over land are yielding to a need for common prosperity.

AP Photo
Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, left, meets her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on April 22. The two announced a summit of their top leaders on April 27-28 in China.

Less than a year ago, the world’s two most populous nations, India and China, almost went to war. In a tense showdown over disputed land in the Himalayas, their soldiers traded stones and punches. After 73 days, each side backed down. Now, on April 27 and 28, their leaders will meet and instead try to embrace what they have in common – ever the wiser in setting aside nationalist rage over territorial issues.

Asia, which is home to half of humanity, is littered with such land disputes, a result of wars, colonial-era mistakes, and ambitions for dominance. The China-India summit will be just one of several high-level meetings in the region over coming weeks that may reflect a desire to ease territorial tensions.

Despite the size of the two Asia giants, their meeting will probably be overshadowed by another summit also being held this weekend. For the first time in 11 years, leaders of North Korea and South Korea will be holding talks. The summit is aimed mainly at ridding the North of its nuclear weapons. If the talks go well, President Trump plans to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in May or June. Yet it is important to recall that the Korean conflict is fundamentally a dispute over which of the two countries will control the peninsula – the land issue unresolved by the 1950-53 Korean War. The talks may reveal if North Korea is finally ready to put prosperity for its people ahead of its desire to conquer the South by force.

One reason China and India avoided a land war last year is the fact that their trade reached its highest level ever, growing by 20 percent in 2017 to more than $84 billion. China is now India’s largest trading partner and a key investor. For its part, China is trying to build roads and ports across the region to boost trade and reclaim its historic role in Asia.

With both India and China facing internal pressures to foster growth, cooperation between the two looks more enticing than confrontation. The elephant and dragon now realize they need a dance card, not another military confrontation along their more than 2,000-mile border. The two fought a brief war in 1962 in the Himalayas that ended in a stalemate.

The summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese leader Xi Jinping will be informal, reflecting their serious intent to get along. Just as remarkable is the fact that Mr. Modi will again meet with Mr. Xi in June at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional body.

Their close call over war last summer was a wake-up call for both sides to look at the big picture and opt for a beneficial détente over a deadly contest in their remote mountains.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Why a wave of Asian summitry
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today