This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and China. Amid a series of exchanges of high-level congratulations and visits, news from the economic front is also exciting: The first two months of the year saw a 55 percent increase in bilateral trade as compared to 2009. All this seems to show that the relationship between the world's two most populous countries is faring well and will grow even stronger.
Behind this promising picture, however, a few gnawing issues are still standing in the way between the two titans. If not handled properly, the road ahead for them would not be as smooth as expected.
First, China and India share about 2,000 kilometers of border, and the boundary has never been formally delineated. The famous poet Robert Frost said in a well-known poem that "Good fences make good neighbors." Many confrontations between countries have been ignited by disputes in their border area. The two sides should quicken their steps on demarcation consultations that began in the 1980s.
Second, as China gains an increasing sphere of influence in the world arena, many Indians, including high-ranking officials, see China as a potential rival or even a threat to India. This may partly explain why India has yet to recognize China's market economy status, while over 60 countries have granted such status to China. Such anti-China sentiments will not help cultivate a friendly atmosphere for bilateral ties to grow, but rather sow the seeds of distrust between the two countries.
Third, India has always harbored a grudge over China's all-weather friendship with Pakistan. The China-Pakistan relationship is based on mutual trust and mutual support in nation building and international cooperation. To maintain a peaceful external environment, China also wants to build closer ties with India. If China could become a mutual friend to the two Asian rivals, it will contribute more to regional peace and stability. This will eventually serve India's interests as well.
To address these issues, the Indian side needs to show real sincerity in forging a more friendly relationship with China. An "Asia century" will remain only a dream until the two Asian giants can treat each other with mutual trust and respect.