Experts' take on China-India ties

Updated: 2015-05-15 16:48

By Wang Xu (

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1. What are your comments on the current relationship between China and India and how will Prime Minister Narandra Modi's visit affect the bilateral relationship?

2. In which areas do you think that China and India should enhance their cooperation?

3. What challenges does the relationship face?

4. What are your expectations for the future relationship between China and India?

Lin Minwang, researcher of international relations at China Foreign Affairs University

1. China and India have a good momentum for developing the bilateral relationship.

Prime Minister Modi's visit to China will help to build a good personal relationship between the leaders of the two countries. This is very important as both President Xi Jinping and Modi are powerful leaders and will rule their country for quite a long time. This visit will set a frame for the bilateral relationship development in the next 5 to 10 years.

2. China and India should promote economic and trade as well as cultural exchanges. Areas such as infrastructure, aviation, nuclear energy, electricity and marine economy should be highlighted in bilateral cooperation. At the same time, China and India should join hands to strengthen connectivity in South Asia.

3. Two major challenges can be listed. First, China and India lack political trust. Traditional issues and problems like border issues and issues concerning Tibet remain unresolved. Second, the investment environment in India is not good. The openness of Indian economy is rather poor.

4. I hope China and India could work together to boost development of South Asia and even the whole Asia. China and India could be twin engines of the world economy if they increase mutual understanding and mutual accommodation and solve the boundary issue through a package of settlements.

Jabin Jacob, assistant director, Institute of Chinese Studies (ICS) in Delhi, India

1. I think it is important for the two leaders to meet regularly. It is only since 2013 that the top leaders of the two countries have been visiting each other's country at least once within the same year. I think it is important that the Indian and Chinese presidents and prime minister/premier travel to the other country at least once a year. This is an important element of the xin xing de da guo guan xi (a new type of great power relaionship) between India and China. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit will be focused on economic cooperation and will also hopefully see agreements on visa liberalization and more sister-city and sister-province agreements between the two sides.

2. I think the two sides should increase the number of student scholarships to several hundred each per year. There should be more cooperation between Indian and Chinese cities and provinces which would improve people-to-people contact and understanding as well as possibilities of economic cooperation and tourism. I also hope there can be greater cooperation between the two sides on developing renewable energy technologies, infrastructure construction, and skilling of workers.

3. Lack of political trust is the biggest challenge. But other than this, there are also internal challenges in both countries including problems of following sustainable, environmental friendly development. These can also impact their bilateral ties by creating a situation for dissatisfaction at home which then feeds nationalism and jingoism against the other country.

4. I think it is impossible for an Asian century (or a Chinese century or Indian century) without India and China cooperating with each other. I think both countries have to put greater efforts into developing people-to-people contacts, cultural exchanges, educational exchanges, tourism, in order to develop a more sustainable and long-term foundation for India-China relations. It is ultimately the people who will drive a successful and positive relationship between the two countries and for this, the people should have greater information about each other and greater freedom and opportunities to interact with each other.

Srikanth Kondapalli, professor in Chinese Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University and also a senior researcher with the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies of Renmin University of China

1. China and India are two large Asian countries currently undergoing swift growth in their economies. China has become the second largest economy in the world and India is poised to increase its economic profile. Estimates suggest China becoming the largest economy in the world in the next decade, while India becoming the third largest, after the United States. This suggests that both China and India need to evolve a common minimum understanding on various issues but essentially in ushering in bilateral stability. While the territorial dispute between the two countries has sapped their positive energies for a long time, after President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in September 2014, a common understanding has been reached to stabilize the border areas with renewed confidence building measures. PM Modi in an interview recently to the Time magazine had stated that peace on the borders with China has been prevailing.

2. PM Modi in his visits abroad recently has emphasized economic issues in order to make the “Make in India” policy successful. China’s role in this is obvious both in the infrastructure projects as well as in the manufacturing sector. While this is a long drawn effort – as no one can change the economic structures overnight – there are several possibilities in this regard and some work has already commenced in this direction.

Second, both are also exploring the possibility of pooling and working together in third markets. This was also decided during Premier Li Keqiang’s visit in 2013.

Third, joint training programs in enhancing each other personnel’s’ capacities is necessary

Fourth, people-to-people contacts, soft power enhancement are another area that could provide a broad-based stability in the bilateral relations in the coming years. Currently, the level of interactions is less than a million people a year on both sides.

Fifth, it was decided five years ago that in order to usher in stability in bilateral relations, there would be summit level meetings between the two leaderships and across several ministries and organizations. However, this has not been realized owing to several reasons. This could be one area where there will be more deliberations and decisions.

3. One of the main challenges in the bilateral relations between China and India is the prevailing misperceptions among both the leaderships and peoples. Previously this had resulted in the border clashes in 1962. With more contacts, transparency and positively resolving outstanding problems besetting the bilateral relations it is possible that these misperceptions could be addressed effectively.

4. PM Modi’s visit and the decisions he and his entourage make with the Chinese leadership will have a lasting impact on the bilateral relations. The political condition in both countries has led to strong leaders and this political stability is expected to last for a decade. Hence the decisions taken by Xi-Modi will have medium term impact on both countries.

Manoj Joshi, distinguished fellow with New Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation

1. India and China are neighbors. But because of historical reasons, notably the border dispute between them, they are unable to develop the full potential of their releationship. However, they have a successful record of managing their problems and pushing on to develop good bilateral relations. Prime Minister Modi and President Xi are both strong leaders, both are interested in reform and in economic transformation of their societies. I think they are capable of taking bold decisions to remove the obstacles and allow the relationship to reach its full potential.

2. The area of economic development, cooperation in multilateral issues and those relating to global governance and for regional peace, stability and development. India and China should also cooperate in regional economic groupings and work toward common solutions to problems relating to water, environment and climate change.

3. The border dispute is a big road block in their relationship. But there are other challenges as well such as India's unhappiness with China's ties with Pakistan, especially in the area of weapons transfer. India is also unhappy about Chinese naval forays into the Indian Ocean area. For its part China is not happy with India's ties with Japan and the US. There are challenges, too, in enhancing their trade with each other since both sides have a number of non-tariff barriers which affect exports to each other.

4. I think it is possible for both to resolve their border dispute and put their political and economic ties on a win-win track. Their leaders have effectively managed the problems since 1988 without any third party assistance, and there is no reason to believe they cannot do so in the future. Removing strategic mistrust and moving ahead in a strategic partnership for peace and development is an imperative both understand well.