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Foreign Policy

Sino-Indian Ties Enter Stage of “Inclusive Development”

Oct 10 , 2014
  • Fu Xiaoqiang

    Director, Institute of Security and Arms Control, CICIR

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first state visit to India established the principles and orientation for Sino-Indian relations for the next five to 10 years, resulting in a series of major strategic consensuses and concrete collaborative projects. Some troubles and disagreements remain between the two countries. Yet, the Sino-Indian relationship will by and large enter a new stage featuring accelerating formulation of a new type of major-country relations.

The visit established new principles for Sino-Indian peaceful co-existence under new circumstances, namely prioritizing development and avoiding confrontation. Sino-Indian ties are no longer based on the common ground of opposing colonialism in the 1950s. But the principle of peaceful co-existence remains instrumental.

It is not only a strategic need for both countries’ peaceful rise, but is also conducive to development at home. Both being world powers, Asian powers and big developing countries, China and India are major emerging economies leading world economic growth. Judging from Xi’s visit, the two’s strategic consensuses obviously far outweigh divergences. Compared with the suspending border issues and other contradictions, China and India share a stronger desire to join hands and pursue development, a more pressing need to conduct strategic coordination and cooperation at regional and global levels, and a more imperative demand for jointly meeting global challenges. So they have to brush aside previous mutual suspicions and work together for development.

The Modi administration gives priority to domestic economic development, striving to build an “outstanding India” that is united, strong, and modern, which tallies with China’s ongoing campaign to carry out comprehensive reforms and fulfill the “Chinese dream” of national rejuvenation. India’s priorities list for such concerns as infrastructure improvements overlaps with some of China’s and shows room for collaboration. The basic direction of bilateral ties for the next five to 10 years has been set – building a development-oriented partnership, realizing common prosperity, accepting and facilitating each other’s efforts for faster development, and jointly create an “Asian century.”

The visit has found out the highest common factor for Sino-Indian cooperation, designed the path to deepening bilateral economic and trade relations. In the direction of setting up a closer development partnership, China and India have identified the highest common factor for their cooperation in the next five to 10 years in economic and trade, and at regional and global levels.

First is to facilitate balanced development of economy and trade in both countries with investment, and further dovetail market development in both countries. Compared with the robust bilateral trade, investment cooperation between China and India has appeared rather “dormant”. China will invest $20 billion in industrial and infrastructure projects in India, nearly 50 times of the $411 million it has done in the past 14 years. Government-level investment expansion will greatly inspire non-governmental investments, and attract more private firms to invest in India, which will help mitigate the adverse balance in bilateral trade, and facilitate sustainable progress of Sino-Indian economic and trade cooperation. Both countries are willing to collaborate in such fields as information technologies, railway infrastructure, industrial parks, clean energy, science and technology, aerospace, and finance. Various programs of cultural exchange are proceeding smoothly. The development of Sino-Indian relations will enjoy stronger support from economic and trade ties, as well as non-governmental exchanges.

Second is the two countries’ decision to work as regional partners in Asia to lead growth, and join hands to promote prosperity in the area. The two will promote the integration of India’s “looking east” and China’s “facing west”, looking for opportunities for cooperation from such projects as the “Silk Road economic belt” and the “China-India-Myanmar-Bangladesh economic corridor”. As India becomes a formal member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization next year, and the two countries conduct pragmatic collaboration in Myanmar and Bangladesh, Sino-Indian competition in such areas as southeast and central Asia, where their interests overlaps, may witness better coordination, opening up a new prospect of mutually beneficial cooperation.

Third is to enhance bilateral strategic coordination and cooperation at the global level, promote international order to develop in a direction conducive to Chinese and Indian interests. China and India will join hands to further promote the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, jointly promote international political and economic orders to develop in a more just and reasonable direction, complete and optimize mechanisms and rules for international governance, and make them better adapt to the common needs of our time and the international community. China and India face similar challenges and share broad common interests, which determines that they must assume common responsibilities for building new orders. That is what their global partnership calls for. The two countries will further strengthen strategic coordination in the BRICS, G20, Chin-Russia-India and East Asia Summit frameworks.

The visit also reveals that the two countries have major disagreements in the field of traditional security, every inch forward appears arduous. First, border issues are complex and difficult to handle. Though both sides continue to emphasize the principle of managing disagreements and crises, and preventing them from affecting development of bilateral ties, from time to time, such problems disrupt the pace of bilateral cooperation, mutual confidence in the security fields sees little progress. Second, India has considerable strategic suspicion about China. It is unwilling to join China’s “maritime Silk Road” plan, even more so to look on as China expands strategic influence in the Indian Ocean. India is also very suspicious of the “China-India-Myanmar-Bangladesh economic corridor”, worrying it may gain little while helping others. Third, India’s “looking east” is mainly targeted at Southeast Asia and West Asia. It is even intervening in the South China Sea disputes; while China’s “facing west” is aimed at the hinterland of the Euro-Asia Continent. They are proceeding in divergent directions, and very vigilant against each other strategically.

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