He will address Chinese officials, business leaders at Boao summit

The cooperation between India and China on climate change and environment could become a template for how the two rising neighbours could better leverage their differences and work together globally, according to Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh.

“I think China recognises, as does India, that cooperation on climate change and environment has been one of the outstanding success stories of this bilateral relationship,” said Mr. Ramesh, who will this weekend address Chinese officials and business leaders at the country's annual high-level economic summit at Boao, in the Hainan province.

“While we might not be on the same page as far as emissions are concerned, there is great value for both sides from this bilateral cooperation, for China internationally and for us domestically,” he told The Hindu in an interview on Friday.

Special session

The Boao Economic Forum, for the first time, is introducing a special session looking at cooperation between China and India on economic issues and the environment. Every year, the summit gathers Chinese government officials, heads of state from across Asia and business leaders in Hainan, China's island tourism capital.

The forum was set up in 1998 by the former Prime Ministers of Australia, Japan and the Philippines under China's support to provide a platform for Asian perspectives on global economic issues and as a counterweight to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The issues in focus at Boao this year are reforming the global financial architecture to better accommodate the interests of emerging economies, and exploring Asian cooperation on green energy.

Indian officials said China was, for the first time, “going out of the way” to court Indian participation at the event, reflecting the “bounce” in the bilateral relationship following the Copenhagen climate change summit. The Ministry of External Affairs, for the first time, decided to have a Cabinet Minister representing India at the forum, suggesting it would provide an opportunity for both countries to further consolidate the recent upswing in relations.

Mr. Ramesh said the summit's focus on India reflected “the deepening of the relationship” between the two countries, and also provided a chance for India to draw lessons from China's success in expanding its clean energy sector. “We need to learn a lot from China, which is positioning itself strategically as a leader in green energy and technology,” he said. “China sees itself as a technology supplier in renewable energy, but we are still stuck in the world of technology transfer.”

Discussions would focus on taking forward cooperation in climate change, forestry and environmental protection. “But the larger message is to demonstrate to people of both countries that despite the rhetoric on both sides on issues like the border dispute, there are other important areas of engagement and cooperation that should be developed,” he said.

The Boao Forum is now planning to hold a separate summit in India towards the end of this year or some time early next year, along with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), as part of a new drive to take the summit beyond China to give it a more international stage.

“There is a realisation that India and China have no option but to collaborate closely in this new emerging global architecture,” Amit Mitra, secretary-general of the FICCI, told The Hindu. “This is also a very positive sign for China-India relations.”