A year has passed since Indian and Chinese troops clashed in eastern Ladakh that lead to a nosedive in their bilateral relationship. The Galwan Valley clashes on June 25 had seen casualties on both sides with 20 Indian Jawans killed. There was massive build-up of the two militaries at the Line of Actual Control, India started viewing China as its No.1 strategic rival and New Delhi started warming up to the idea of the Quad grouping as a counterbalance to Beijing, exemplified by the Malabar naval exercise in November that saw the Indian, American, Japanese and Australian navies jointly participate for the first time in over a decade.

Thus, the events of last year truly broke trust between India and China and the relationship with Beijing is expected to be viewed through the prism of suspicion for the foreseeable future. The idea that India and China could collaborate to usher in an Asian century has been buried for good. Clearly, China today doesn’t see India as an equal partner. In fact, under the leadership of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Chinese Communist Party seems to have fallen back on the old Chinese adage that “Two tigers can’t live on the same mountain” and has put India in the category of countries that can be pushed around to serve internal party politics.

True, there was some easing of tensions in February this year when Indian and Chinese troops finally disengaged in the Pangong Tso area. But since then the Chinese side has flatly refused to pull back from other incursion points such as Gogra, Hot Springs, Demchok and Depsang Plains. Even in Pangong, the temporary truce prevents Indian troops from going up to their traditional patrolling points. And with reports coming in of the Chinese PLA reinforcing its military positions in the depth areas along the LAC, it’s amply clear that Beijing has no intention to de-escalate at the border anytime soon.

Therefore, as things stand, it is China that undermined the bilateral relationship with India and it is China that has to walk the extra mile – and a very long mile at that – to repair two-way ties. But that is unlikely to happen as China today is in “wolf warrior” mode and can’t be seen to be weak. As I have written before, this aggressive Chinese posture is part of Xi’s plan to use nationalism and show strategic gains as a cover for effecting a massive reorganisation and centralisation of power within the Chinese party-state to prolong the life of the Chinese Communist Party. In other words, Xi is reinforcing the authority of the party over all levers of the Chinese state and indeed erasing the space between party and state to ensure that the party itself doesn’t collapse from within.

Seen from this perspective, Xi’s priority of prolonging the life of the Chinese Communist Party takes precedence over everything else, including relations with India. Of course, China doesn’t want to be in a perpetual state of conflict with India. Which is why it has offered help to India to fight the Covid-19 pandemic jointly – an offer that New Delhi has rejected so far. Basically, China wants to relegate India to second-class status in Asia – while Beijing arrogates to itself the No.1 spot — and raise temperatures or cool them down as and when it pleases. But China can’t be killing our soldiers at the border and intruding into Indian territory and then seek commercial cooperation and offer help on the pandemic.

True, Indian private companies are importing Covid-related medicines and oxygen concentrators from China. But that is just the nature of the global economy where trans border commercial ties can’t be completely cut off. However, this doesn’t mean that at the government-to-government level India and China will get along, and that in turn will reduce the overall potential of the bilateral relationship.

In fact, as things stand, India should no longer be overly concerned about Chinese political interests. And one area where India should abandon caution is in relations with Taiwan. The latter too is doing its best to help India in its time of crisis and this week delivered critical medical supplies to India including the first batch of 150 oxygen concentrators and 500 oxygen cylinders. Plus, Taiwan has done a remarkable job of controlling the pandemic within its borders and as of April 30 had just 1,128 Covid cases with 12 deaths. Moreover, Taiwan and India share democratic values with Taipei willing to share its medical expertise with the rest of the world.

In this regard, there is a growing chorus within the international community to include Taiwan in the upcoming World Health Assembly – the decision making body of the WHO — at a time when all global stakeholders are required to cooperate to fight the pandemic. In fact, France’s senate just passed a resolution in support of Taiwan’s participation in international organisations, including the WHO, after G7 foreign ministers issued a joint communique to support Taiwan’s WHO participation earlier in the week.

Therefore, India too should not hesitate in clearly supporting Taiwan’s participation in the upcoming World Health Assembly, setting aside any political objections China might have. Again, China has lost India’s trust while there is great independent logic in ramping up New Delhi-Taipei ties. Beijing should accept that India and China will be like chalk and cheese for the foreseeable future.