Good-neighborly efforts

By Hua Junduo
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, May 20, 2013
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Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh prior to their meeting in New Delhi, capital of India, May 19, 2013. [Li Tao/Xinhua]

Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L) shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh prior to their meeting in New Delhi, capital of India, May 19, 2013. [Li Tao/Xinhua]

Friendly coexistence and closer economic ties are a necessity for China and India. Not just because of geopolitical factors, but, more importantly, because it is also in their fundamental interests and their shared historical mission to boost economic and social development.

The peaceful ending of the recent "tent confrontation" on the Sino-Indian border, the recent visit by Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid to China, and Premier Li Keqiang's visit to India, as the first stop on his first official overseas trip since taking office, signal the two neighbors are committed to forging a long-term friendship, featuring pragmatic cooperation and common development.

China and India are at the same development stage, and both have opportunities for development amid the world's rapid multi-polarization and economic globalization. The two neighbors and peoples are in the same boat and their close cooperation under the framework of BRICS - the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - G20 and other mechanisms has attracted worldwide attention and received a warm welcome from developing countries.

Sino-Indian relations have entered a new stage of comprehensive development and the two countries have established a strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity. The bilateral trade volume has increased nearly 20 fold since the start of the century. China has become India's second-largest trading partner, while India is China's largest trading partner in South Asia. In recent years, trade between China and India has witnessed rapid growth with the bilateral trade volume exceeding $60 billion last year.

China and India are the two largest emerging economies with strong complementary strengths in economic cooperation. China has advantages in manufacturing and infrastructure construction, and it has contracted to build a large number of projects, such as power stations, telecommunications, subways and bridges, in India. India's comparative strengths in information technology, software, outsourcing, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals have great potential in the Chinese market. In addition, China and India can further promote exchanges and cooperation in agriculture, energy, the environment, healthcare, education, media, culture and tourism.

The biggest problem plaguing Sino-Indian relations is the border issue. Fortunately, since the start of this century, both countries have reached a consensus to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution, through equal and friendly consultations. However, it is a complex issue, and it will be difficult to resolve, especially in the spotlight of public nationalism in both countries. Therefore, the final settlement of the issue will require not only sincerity, but also patience. The two sides have agreed to make joint efforts to maintain peace in the border areas and ensure that the boundary issue will not affect bilateral relations.

Obviously, this high-level consensus is of great significance, because, with the development of bilateral relations and the growing number of exchanges and increasing common interests between the two countries, the time for resolving issues left over by history, including the border dispute, is approaching maturity.

In fact, China and India have been insisting on a solution to the boundary issue through equal and friendly consultations. The Special Representatives appointed by the two governments in 2003 have concluded the political guidelines and reached a preliminary consensus on a solution framework through several rounds of negotiations. Pending a final resolution, the two sides will continue to make joint efforts to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas. Friendly negotiations will help enhance strategic mutual trust and create favorable conditions for the sound development of bilateral relations.

The leaders of China and India have also reached a basic consensus that the two sides will not see each other as a threat, but cooperative partners. As President Xi Jinping said, the world has enough space for the development of both China and India, and it needs their common development. This consensus will be the guiding principle for the development of bilateral relations in the future.

Making both peoples aware of this consensus is a very important task. There are plenty of people who are reluctant to see friendship between the two countries and hope to see long-lasting hostility between them. But the people of China and India must not facilitate the schemes of those who are ill-disposed toward friendly ties between the two neighbors, they should understand that friendly ties are in the fundamental interests of China and India.

Sino-Indian friendship is a great cause that needs the unremitting efforts of the two peoples from generation to generation. We firmly believe that the trend of growing Sino-Indian friendship is irreversible and Sino-Indian relations are blessed with a bright future.

The author is the former Chinese ambassador to India.


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