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As the special envoys of the two sides meet in Beijing for the 14th round of border talks, many people in both countries have expressed their dismay and pessimism over any outcome of this talk. No breakthrough is expected during the ongoing discussion between the representatives of the two nations. To some observers of India-China relations, it appears to be a regular "coffee table meeting" between senior level bureaucrats of the two nations.
We can understand the disenchantment among the people in the two countries, to whom, as of now, no positive resolution of the boundary issue is foreseeable. Since there is a lack of transparency and not much information is available to the public, we do not know what stage the discussion has reached and what issues are at stake. We still wait with patience for detailed information when the meeting ends.
At the same time, there is a rising hope for an amicable resolution of the border issue between India and China. To resolve any boundary issue, first and foremost we need to create a suitable and stable domestic environment. And ensuring a sustainable economic growth and improving the living standard of citizens will help to achieve this goal.
Since the 2008 global economic meltdown, Chinese policy makers have realized the importance of India as a huge potential market for made-in-China products. But due to the lack of trade facilitations and extra regulations, bilateral trade has seen a decline. If correct steps are taken by the two governments, India-China bilateral trade could reach new heights in the coming years. The roadblocks are mainly in granting visas and rising security concerns. Mutual distrust is also having a negative impact on the growth of bilateral trade.
The "Copenhagen spirit" for India-China working together on global issues has provided new hope, and we hope for similar cooperation at the ongoing Cancun summit. India and China are still the two largest developing countries and need to work together to find an urgent solution to the climate change challenge. They should not be bullied by pressure from the industrialized world and should find an indigenous and affordable solution to this challenge.
On another front, the people-to-people exchange between India and China is improving but still no comparison with Sino-Japan or Sino-US relations. It may be unrealistic to compare the interdependence of the latter two with the first one. But given the growing interest in each other, we are very optimistic that by 2050, India-China bilateral relations may emerge as one of the most important in the world.
As Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao rightly said, "India and China have learnt lessons from the ups and downs of the 60 years of bilateral ties." It is time to consolidate these experiences and formulate a stable bilateral mechanism to solve any serious diplomatic tussle between the two nations.
Last but not least, we expect clear support from Premier Wen Jiabao on India's bid to join the UN Security Council as a permanent member, when he visits India next month.
The author is a teacher at Beijing Foreign Studies University and can be reached at email@example.com.