Op-Ed Contributors

China, India made for each other

By Du Youkang (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-10-20 07:56
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The rise of China and India is believed to be the most remarkable phenomenon of the 21st century. The international community admires their achievement, especially their economic resilience and the great potential they have showed during the global financial crisis.

China, India and other emerging economies have strengthened their communication and coordination on a number of major international issues such as climate change, reform of the international financial system and the Doha Round of trade talks. They have strived to give a greater voice to developing countries at international forums, too.

Sino-Indian ties continue to develop at a smooth pace. The two countries have forged a strategic partnership for peace and prosperity, and established strategies to further deepen relations for mutual benefit.

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This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and India. The two countries have reached common ground on living, working and prospering together, and their bilateral relations have reached a new starting point for progress.

But the two countries also face some problems despite focusing their efforts on promoting development, strengthening cooperation and deepening bilateral ties. For example, some Indian media outlets raised a hue and cry over so-called "border invasion" by China last year and the recent suspension of bilateral military exchanges.

Some Western countries and media are trying to use this to drive a wedge between the two neighbors. It seems they want to see Sino-Indian ties plunge into chaos. What do they expect to gain from this?

As China and India both have emerged as major players on the global stage today, their relations are not limited to the bilateral sphere alone; they have regional and global significance too. From the global perspective, the peaceful development of their ties has helped promote a multi-polar world and the globalization process. It has great importance in world development, too.

The peaceful Sino-Indian development has not only helped push Asia's growth and prosperity, but also given greater voice to the continents in the international community, resulting in the gradual shift of global economic and political centerpiece from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Obviously, peaceful coexistence has been the precondition for the rise of China and India and created the hope of the arrival of the "Asia century". Research scholars on China-India ties should know that the two have more interests than differences in common.

First, the two countries are committed to developing their economies and improving their peoples' livelihood, for which a peaceful and stable international and neighboring environment is essential. Given their fundamental interests, peaceful co-existence and common development are the best choice for the two countries.

Second, strengthening economic and trade cooperation could give full play to complementary advantages of the two countries and achieve mutually beneficial results. Sino-Indian bilateral trade volume may hit $60 billion this year, and China is expected to become India's largest trade partner.

Third, in addressing the challenges thrown up by globalization in the Western-dominated international system, China and India should not only rely on their separate efforts, but also strengthen bilateral economic and technical cooperation to reduce dependence on the developed countries for capital and technology, and jointly oppose protectionism.

Fourth, as emerging economies, China and India share a lot of common views on many major international issues such as a multi-polar world, reform of the international economic and financial system, South-North relations, democratization of international relations, climate change and World Trade Organization talks. In recent years, the two sides have enhanced coordination and cooperation over these issues to protect their as well as the entire developing world's interests.

Of course, there are still some unresolved differences between the two countries, from border disputes left over by history to competition in energy, resources and markets, and some trade frictions and investment limitations set by India on Chinese enterprises. Besides, India has always harbored a grudge against China's normal engagement with other South Asian countries. The 1962 border conflict between the two neighbors interrupted healthy development of bilateral relations, and their mutual trust is still to be restored to the highest level. Some ill-intentioned elements are making use of some or all of these problems to create trouble and confusion.

It is heartening that the heads of the two countries accord great importance to bilateral relationship. They have repeatedly stressed that the two sides pose no threat to each other, and that they are partners rather than opponents and their development has increased opportunities of mutually beneficial cooperation.

On the border issue, so far 13 rounds of meetings seek to forge a fair and reasonable solution that both could accept. Because of these talks, peace has been maintained for a long period in border areas.

The two countries are strengthening communication and understanding, increasing mutual trust and respecting each other's core interest through a variety of bilateral cooperation mechanisms, such as strategic dialogue, counter-terrorism talks, defense and security consultation and financial dialogue.

Now they need to step up vigilance, and guard against elements - inside as well as outside their countries - which try to create trouble and push bilateral relations off the tracks.

Against the background of the changing global situation, China-India ties are more stable now and are maturing gradually. Their mutually beneficial cooperation has become more promising. With regard to some media outlets' attempt to derail Sino-Indian ties, the best response of the two countries should be to dismiss interference, adhere firmly to the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, live together in peace and harmony, further enhance strategic cooperation and jointly realize the goal of peaceful economic growth.

Harmonious China-India relations will not only serve the fundamental interests of the peoples of the two countries, but also benefit the region and bring lasting peace and common prosperity to the world.

The author is director of the Center for South Asian Studies at the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University.

(China Daily 10/20/2010 page9)