As China prepares for a new stage of reform and development, there are opportunities for cooperation between it and the rest of the world, including India

The year 2013 is a harvest year for Sino-Indian Strategic Cooperative Partnership, which witnessed great progress in friendship and fruitful cooperation. Three aspects are featured in a whole year of our relationship.

First, frequent and close high-level interactions between China and India with continually strengthened strategic trust with each other. Chinese President Xi Jinping met twice with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the Durban BRICS Summit and the G20 St. Petersburg Summit to outline a grand blueprint for future development of China-India relations; Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Dr. Singh exchanged visits within one year after a lapse of nearly 60 years, during which joint statements were issued and more then 10 agreements reached. The visits resulted in comprehensive plans of pragmatic cooperation in various fields between China and India. Moreover, the 16th Special Representatives’ Meeting for the China-India Boundary Question and the 5th China-India Strategic Dialogue were respectively held to enhance mutual communication and understanding between our two sides.

Converging interests

Second, converging interests deepened between China and India with continually expanded cultural exchanges. Mechanisms like the China-India Strategic Economic Dialogue, Financial Dialogue, Joint Economic Group are becoming more effective while our cooperation has spread from trade in goods and project contracting to trade in service, etc. The two sides also reached consensus in principle to set up Chinese industrial parks in India, carry out railway cooperation and strengthen investment cooperation in order to find effective measures for balanced bilateral trade. The just-concluded first joint working group meeting of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor formally established the cooperation mechanism among the four countries which we believe will play an important role in the integration of interests for China and India, and for the region at large. It is also conducive to an early realisation of balanced trade between China and India and common prosperity in the region. China-India cultural exchanges continue to deepen with more and more people favouring each other’s country as their tourist destination. The number of tourists between our two countries increased steadily in 2013 and is expected to exceed 7.5 lakh. The two countries also signed three pairs of sister city agreements, held the first China-India Media Forum and exchanged visits of 100-youth delegations.

Foreign affairs

Third, increased collaboration in international affairs between China and India with proper handling of divergences. China and India closely coordinated and cooperated in multilateral fora including G20 and BRICS and jointly tackled global challenges. Both sides also maintained good communication and cooperation in a number of international and regional hot spots and, as a result, our bilateral relationship has been enhanced and important contributions have been done to peace and the development of the world. On the China-India border issue, we signed the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement which reaffirmed the principle that we will not let local differences get in the way of the overall development of our bilateral relationship. Both sides are more confident of the established way of focussing on mutual benefit and common development while addressing each other’s concerns and properly handling differences.

Significance of 2014

2014 is “the Year of Friendly Exchanges” between China and India. It is also the 60th anniversary of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (Panchsheel). The two countries will host a variety of activities. I believe China-India relations will have a promising and brilliant prospect in the year. From the perspective of development of bilateral relations, I think we should focus our efforts on the following aspects.

The first is to further deepen mutual trust and expand a mutually beneficial and pragmatic partnership. The international situation is undergoing profound changes while the global economy is facing a depth adjustment. Against this backdrop, China and India should deepen mutual trust in a spirit of treating each other with sincerity as well as expand our pragmatic cooperation in political, economic, military, cultural and other fields with a broader vision and increasing efforts.

Economic thrust

The second is to further promote the complementarities and build a stable and prosperous neighbouring community of common destiny. The prior task for both China and India is to develop the economy and improve people’s living standard. Both sides should explore complementary cooperation in the major fields of infrastructure, construction, manufacturing, service, IT, telecommunication, investment, pharmaceutical and industrial parks. Both China and India need a favourable external environment especially the periphery. Both should play a leading role in regional economic integration for the common development of neighbouring countries and promote connectivity, mutual benefit and common prosperity in the region.

The third is to further strengthen coordination and cooperation in regional and international issues. China-India relations should progress in accordance with the international general trend which requires closer cooperation of the two sides on international and regional affairs, as well as multilateral issues. We should also actively take part in the reform of the international economic governance system and work jointly to empower developing countries in the making of international rules in order to safeguard our common interests, and thus push for the establishment of an international relationship based on equality and mutual trust, inclusiveness and mutual learning, as well as cooperation and win-win outcomes.

The Third Plenum of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party opened up a new historic stage of China’s reform and development, which not only will shape a new China, but also usher in new opportunities of cooperation between China and the rest of the world. I believe that China-India relations will continue to open up new space for development and upgrade to a higher level in the new year.

(Wei Wei is China’s Ambassador to India.)

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