India on Monday called for forging an alliance with China to turn the 21st century into an “Asian Century.” With the world economy shifting towards Asia, Vice-President Hamid Ansari said, India and China will have to play a decisive role and create a world based on “good-neighbourliness and mutual prosperity” rather than one based on the “balance of power calculations and animosity”, to emerge as regional leaders.

Close on the heels of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s assertion that his country will never seek hegemony, no matter how strong it becomes, Mr. Ansari pitched for forging an alliance between India and China for “mutual benefit” in the emerging era of multi-polarity.

“On the global stage, both countries are at the forefront of the emergence of a more democratic global order and of multilateral approaches to resolving global issues in an equitable manner. The United Nations Security Council today no longer reflects reality and must be expanded,” he said.

Speaking on, “Calibrated Futurology: India, China and the World” at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences here, Mr. Ansari said, “We have several areas of convergence and common interests on global issues. Both our countries hold similar positions on issues such as climate change, Doha round, reform of international financial institutions, and energy security. We also coordinate our positions before major multilateral events. It is important that we continue to do so since these pose common challenges.”

Climate change talks

He called for a united voice on the issue of climate change negotiations, where both countries have been maintaining that the burden sharing has to be fair and must take into account historical emissions. Tracing the India-China journey that started of as that of ‘Buddhist twins’ to ‘colonial twins’ to having emerged as ‘geo-civilisational twins’, the Vice President said the two countries are united in their effort to reshape the world order.

Committed neighbour

Assuring that India remains committed to building a future with its neighbour, Mr. Ansari said, “For the first time in 30 years, a single political party has obtained parliamentary majority on its own [in India]. Despite this change, there will be continuity in foreign policy. India has always followed an independent and autonomous foreign policy. The main task of our foreign policy is to create an external environment that is conducive for our rapid development. Our foreign policy also seeks to expand our development choices and give us strategic autonomy in the world.”

He asserted that India does not subscribe to alliance building nor does it believe in the logic of containment. “We firmly believe that both India and China are too big to be contained. Building peaceful and cooperative relationships in our d neighbourhood is an intrinsic element of our foreign policy. The challenge here is to our ability to work together, handle differences and compete and cooperate at the same time,” he said.

China not a business adversary

India which is on the cusp of strengthening its trade and investment ties with China through a series of agreements, does not perceive China as an adversary in business, Mr. Ansari said. “As two large developing countries, our common interests far outweigh our differences. We admire China’s achievements in terms of development and hope to see China become a developed country soon,” he said.

Even as he called for correcting the “perception gap and to change the negative perception of each other in some quarters,” Mr. Ansari said the India-China relationship has transcended bilateral scope and acquired regional, global and strategic significance. “We both view each other as partners for mutual benefit and not as rivals or competitors. Our primary interest is to pay attention to the task of development. For it to succeed, both countries need a peaceful periphery and an environment of tranquillity. And thus it has been the objective of both our countries to seek tranquillity and stability in our immediate neighbourhood and extended region. ”

Admitting that India and China’s record of adhering to the five principles of Panchsheel is “a mixed one, but improving,” Mr. Ansari said, “the border clash of 1962 left a scar on the Indian psyche and led to a brief interregnum in the growth of ties.” He called for crafted strategy for management of resources, demographics, inclusiveness, rural-urban balance, energy security, environmental sustainability and above all a sustained period of peace and stability conducive to economic and social development to counter the damage to India-China economies, distorted social structures, disrupted lines of trade and cultural communications, disregarded affinities and synergies caused by “the period of imperial or colonial dominance.”