Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India and Pakistan from Dec 15 to Dec 19 has reaped satisfactory benefits for China's diplomatic relations with these bordering countries.
The South Asian trip achieved a wide range of positive results and made people in the two host countries understand the tangible benefits of China's rapid development.
It not only helped China and India create guidelines for a win-win relationship in the coming years but also reinforced the foundation of China's all-weather strategic partnership with Pakistan.
India is the only country that has territorial disputes with China. In the context of an accelerated rise of both countries, the West often makes an issue of, or exaggerates, the so-called China-India competition to sow discord between the Asian giants.
That highlights the importance of a harmonious coexistence between Beijing and New Delhi, which is key to determining whether Asian ambitions to create a harmonious continent can be realized.
The Chinese premier's visit came at a time when both countries were celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties and will enrich the substance of bilateral economic and trade cooperation.
Both countries vowed to increase their bilateral trade volume to $150 billion by 2015. The trade value is expected to exceed $60 billion this year, and China will overtake the United States to become India's largest trading partner.
Premier Wen promised to increase China's investment in India, and both countries agreed to open their markets to each other.
These moves will increase the cross-border flow of personnel, logistics and information, and cultivate a solid economic, non-governmental and cultural foundation for better relations.
Expanding exchanges will help China and India reach the point where both benefit from cooperation and would suffer from - and therefore, will avoid - confrontation.
Ever-growing economic and trade cooperation over the past two decades, following the normalization of ties, has proven to be bilateral relations' largest driving force and stabilizing factor. Shared development will cause mutual interests to trump confrontations.
The overlap of their strategic opportunities is also expected to prevent Beijing and New Delhi from moving too close to rivalry.
Consensuses were reached during Wen's visit on the establishment of a series of high-level consultative mechanisms. These include regular visits by heads of state and government, and the establishment of a hotline between their prime ministers.
In addition, a "strategic economic dialogue" mechanism coupled with visits by their foreign ministers will also be established.
These high-level communication mechanisms, along with consultation channels between their special representatives, will assist the resolution of border disputes and expand bilateral consultations under multilateral frameworks, such as those of the BRIC and G20 summits. They are expected to facilitate communications between the neighbors and ensure thorny issues do not disrupt their cooperation.
Their expanding economic and trade ties have also boosted bilateral cooperation on a wide range of global issues. These include energy security, climate change and international trade talks.
There is enough space in the world for China and India to pursue greater development through cooperation.
Despite differences over some issues, such as border disputes and the Indian Ocean's security, the two Asian giants' economic cooperation is expected to keep them on the track of steady development.
It is not China's policy to pursue strategic equilibrium in South Asia.
Beijing's friendly ties with Pakistan result from its decades-long, all-weather strategic partnership with Islamabad.
After the establishment of diplomatic relations, Pakistan made unremitting efforts to assist China break a diplomatic stalemate in the country's early years and restore its legitimate seat in the United Nations.
The strategic partnership between Beijing and Islamabad originates from common geopolitical and strategic interests. Consequently, the neighbors are mutually supportive on a series of issues pertinent to their core interests.
The author is a researcher with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.
(China Daily 12/23/2010 page8)