He Yafei: Rivals or partners, The evolution of Sino-India relations


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He Yafei: Rivals or partners, The evolution of Sino-India relations


By He Yafei    Source: China.org.cn    Published: 2018-2-10

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Xiamen, southeast China`s Fujian Province, Sept. 5, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

A positive relationship between China and India, neighbors and important members of G20 and BRICS, is essential to the reform of global governance as well as the course of globalization.

Amid tensions, competition and disputes between them, some drew immense attention from global media, such as the Donglang standoff last year. The two ancient civilizations are now facing a choice between cooperation or confrontation, inclusiveness or exclusiveness and integration or critical clashes.

These are absolutely critical to the future course of humanity in the 21st century, especially when the world is facing the rise of populism and anti-globalization sentiment.

While forecasting the trajectory of the relationship between two ancient countries, we`d better first take a look at the current global situation as it provides an important context to the bilateral ties we wish to evaluate.

In view of the global changes, there are growing uncertainties arising from the unbalanced distribution of political forces in the world. The rise of populism, parochial nationalism, isolationism and protectionism can be seen penetrating power institutions, and showing no signs of abating.

The polarization of wealth, the division of social classes and political extremism have jeopardized social stability and added uncertainties to the world`s future.

The United States, for instance, with the slogan of "American First," has become uneasy with the "Great Convergence." It has also been unwilling to provide public products globally and collaborating to rewrite the rules of international order since Donald Trump assumed the presidency. It is such self-centered policies that create an uncertain future. Therefore, how China and India react will be critical in international relations and global governance.

Besides, geopolitical tensions among countries, such as Russia and the United States, continue to escalate, and the rhetoric of the Thucydides Trap cannot be muted. Regional crises in the Middle East, East Asia and Ukraine, and the rampant growth of terrorism place world peace and stability at risk.

Moreover, the fourth Industrial Revolution, with the frenetic expansion of information technology, is accelerating and the world, despite being challenged by the conundrums of financial crises, asset bubbles, economic imbalance and employment inequality, awaits a new epoch.

In dealing with the problems, the different countries and regions hold different views and work towards different solutions, some positive, others, irrational.

In the past few years, the five member countries of BRICS have contributed more than 50 percent to the world`s economic growth. However, instead of being applauded, they have been blamed by the United States for manipulating their currencies and dumping products.

Among those countries, China has been most affected by the anti-dumping investigations and those based on section-301 of the U.S. Trade Act. The United States has done this despite the looming threat of a trade war.

The ideological doctrine dichotomizing the world into "Liberal Democracy" and others still works on the mentality of the Western world that still believes in its superiority and seeks to impose liberalism on the other countries at the expense of color revolutions or even civil wars.

The international environment requires China and India to prioritize the changing of the world order that must become more just, fair and reasonable.

The sustainable and relentless efforts of the two countries can be formed in the following aspects:

First and foremost, the mechanism of international platforms, such as BRICS, G20 and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), can facilitate the development of a political, economic and security framework that can be conducive to the holistic interests not only in Asia, but also the world.

As the two populous countries enjoying pivotal roles in Asia, China and India, are congruent in their efforts to develop the community of shared future and uphold and maintain world peace and stability.

Second, with their increasing involvement in the world economy and global governance, the two countries are consistent in seeking national resurgence.

As the constructor, contributor and reformer of the global economy and global governance, China and India still need to enhance their cooperation because they remain heavily reliant on the developed economies, even though their economic growth rates far exceed the Western countries.

Most China`s manufacturers, for instance, remain working in the middle or low end of the industrial chain; meanwhile, India`s underdeveloped infrastructures restrict domestic development.

Therefore, the two sides need to prioritize cooperation in a win-win framework.

Like China, India has more than once stressed that the international order and relations based on the age-old Bretton Woods System are outdated in modern society, where the growing voice of developing countries should be heard.

Third, the two countries should enhance their bilateral and multilateral ties to highlight mutual trusts and pass through the labyrinths that trouble South Asia, and Asia and the world as a whole.

Fourth, the "Belt and Road" Initiative is expected to work as an approach to overcome stereotypes, bias and other difficulties that have obstructed bilateral relations, where strategic cooperation should be deepened with effective communication.

In history, the centuries-old Maritime Silk Road gave birth to a far-reaching interconnection and cultural influence between China and India. Today, the India Ocean remains a key route for 50 percent of the containers and 70 percent of the oil transmitted across the globe.

Consistent with China`s "Belt and Road" Initiative, India has also made strategic plans inspired by the country`s historic legacies, such as, the "Project Mausam," the "Sagarmala National Perspective Plan" and the "Spice Route" Project.

To implement these plans, China and India need enhanced connectivity.

The author is a former Foreign Minister and senior fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.