Although there are certain forces in the world that do not want to see China and India join hands, bilateral relations are standing at a new starting point, facing exciting new opportunities for development.
In the second term of the United Progressive Alliance government, China-India relations have experienced a smooth transition and taken on a new momentum of sound development. In June this year, Chinese President Hu Jintao met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Yekaterinburg, Russia. Both leaders reiterated they would jointly promote the sound development of bilateral relations, enhance mutual trust, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation, strengthen communication and coordination, and push forward the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership between the two countries towards continuous, stable, and healthy development.
In his congratulatory message to Premier Wen Jiabao on the occasion of the 60th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China, Prime Minister Singh reaffirmed the same sentiment. In August, Chinese State Councillor Mr. Dai Bingguo paid a successful visit to India and held in-depth talks with Indian National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan on the boundary question and exchanged views on bilateral, regional, and international issues. In September, Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests of India, visited China and exchanged views on a wide range of issues, including climate change, environment and forests with his Chinese counterparts.
In terms of economic and trade cooperation, in 2008 China became India’s largest trade partner and India the 10th largest trade partner of China. The global financial crisis has seriously impacted the real economy of both countries and caused a downturn in our industrial production and exports. The two countries do face huge challenges to sustain the growth of our bilateral trade. In spite of this, China and India as two emerging markets are still outperforming others on the whole. We have advantages such as vast markets and strong domestic demand, which have made our two countries powerhouses for the recovery of the world economy.
Both sides should tap the potentials for economic cooperation, work together to improve the trade structure and look for new areas for growth, correct the trade imbalance, oppose trade protectionism in all forms, accommodate mutual trade concerns, and create a sound environment for trade and mutual investment. We should actively discuss the feasibility of a Regional Trade Agreement, make full use of the mechanisms of Economic and Financial Dialogue and the Joint Committee on Science, Technology and Trade, so as to create solid foundation for the steady development of bilateral economic and trade cooperation — with a view to expanding our bilateral trade to $60 billion by 2010.
In international affairs, the two sides have maintained effective cooperation and coordination within the framework of the China-India-Russia Trilateral Mechanism, BRIC, the G20, and other forums. China and India have been making joint efforts on major international issues, including climate change, the Doha Round talks, the global financial crisis, countering terrorism, energy and food security, etc., with a view to protecting the interests of our two countries and other developing countries, and promoting a fair, just, and reasonable international system.
There are good reasons for China and India to work closely on global issues. Both are developing countries, share historical experiences, and face similar tasks today. The combined population of the two countries accounts for 40 per cent of the world’s total. With the growing economic strength, China and India are enjoying a status and role that are much more appreciated in the world arena. Our common concerns and interests in international affairs require us to consolidate our coordination and cooperation.
The simultaneous emergence of China and India is an eye-catching phenomenon in today’s world. China welcomes India’s development and its bigger role in international affairs. We hope the Indian side adopts the same attitude towards China. China and India should become cooperative partners instead of competitive rivals. Both countries should seek for a win-win result instead of a zero-sum game.
It is a strategic choice made by both governments and peoples, proceeding from the common and fundamental interests of both countries, to establish the China-India Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity. President Hu Jintao said recently that China has always, from a strategic and long-term perspective, firmly and unswervingly promoted harmonious, good neighbourly, and friendly cooperation between China and India. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on his part, stated that the Indian government would give top priority to its relations with China and there is enough room in the world for the two countries to achieve development. Although there are certain forces in the world that do not want to see China and India join hands, the historical trend of bilateral friendship is irreversible.
China has made impressive economic progress, but it is still a developing country. The major task in the foreseeable future remains the development of the national economy and improvement of the people’s livelihood. China will firmly pursue the path of peaceful development, and pose no threat to other countries. Its development means opportunity to India and other countries. Even when China becomes stronger, it will continue to adhere to the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, and will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion. This is the solemn commitment the Chinese government has made to the whole world.
Recently, the Indian media reported abundantly on the India-China boundary issue. The spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China has repeatedly clarified the Chinese position toward the boundary question. Indian leaders and senior officials also refuted the reports in one voice and called for media restraint. As a matter of fact, with the efforts of both sides, the China-India boundary areas generally remain peaceful and tranquil. China strictly acts in accordance with the agreements. At the same time, both governments have been continuously seeking a fair, reasonable, and mutually acceptable solution through negotiation. The China-India Special Representative talks have made significant progress. The boundary question is an issue left over by history, sensitive and complicated, which needs to be resolved with more patience and wisdom. It is dialogue rather than story-making that would solve the issue.
In the process of globalisation, there is a strong trend of economic integration between countries. They complement each other in different ways to achieve common development. In recent years, some Chinese companies have come to India. They not only undertake projects but also contribute in many ways to the Indian economy, especially in infrastructure development. To my knowledge, those companies usually hire a lot of local workers. Take Huawei India as an example. Over 80 per cent of its staff members are locals, most of them professional and technical personnel. Among those Chinese people who come to India to work on the projects, they are required by the projects. They work along with their Indian colleagues and learn form each other. They will return to China once they complete the project.
Therefore, the Chinese companies in India are an indispensable part of economic cooperation between China and India. If we manage this properly, it will yield a win-win situation. As for the national security concerns on the part of the Indian side, I can assure you that the Chinese Government will never allow Chinese companies to engage in any acts that may undermine national security of other countries, including India.
Media play a unique role in bilateral relations. People of the two countries increase their mutual understanding and friendship through objective reporting. A positive public opinion environment is conducive and necessary to the development of bilateral relations. Indian media serve as a ‘window’ or a ‘bridge’ to the Indian public to understand China. The opinions and perspectives of the Indian media on China and on bilateral relations may influence and even shape the image of China in the eyes of the Indian government and people. The media should keep abreast with the paces of the bilateral relations and tap more positive information, so as to convey objective messages to the two peoples and serve as a booster to promote bilateral relations.
Looking ahead, I foresee a more and more active relationship. The two sides are busy working on matters relating to the Indian President’s visit to China. A hotline between the two sides will be ready soon. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has invited Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to visit China at his convenience. A meeting of the Foreign Ministers of China, India, and Russia will be soon held in India. The two countries are also actively preparing to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations in 2010, coinciding with the activities of the China Festival in India and the India Festival in China. All those interactions will push the bilateral relations to a new height.
I am of the view that the China-India relations are standing at a new starting point, facing new opportunities for development. As Chinese Ambassador to India, I am encouraged by the potential of our bilateral relations and confident about its future.
(The writer is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of China to the Republic of India.)