On March 8, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a news conference on the sidelines of the ongoing annual session of the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislature, to explain China’s diplomatic agenda for 2018 to the outside world. The presentation came at a very important juncture, as China emerges as a leader of the new world order.
Although the press conference was dominated by questions on the U.S.-China relationship, the Korean Peninsula, the Belt and Road Initiative and some major domestic events to be held this year, Wang also spoke about the importance of building a constructive relationship with India. He offered a fresh blueprint to clear the air on Sino-Indian bilateral relations after last summer’s prolonged border standoff in the Doklam area.
The foreign minister exhibited both hope and confidence on relations between Asia’s two biggest countries. “No mountain is high enough to stop China and India having a strong relationship, as long as both sides strive to build trust instead of fighting one another,” Wang said. The candid tone of his remarks emphasized that China values its friendship with India and will work to manage its differences with its neighbor. In terms of their growing power and economic influence, Sino-Indian ties may indeed be the most important relationship of the 21st century.
Despite several difficulties in the recent past, the China-India relationship has continued to grow. Presumably referring to the 73-day-long Doklam episode, the foreign minister insisted that, “The Chinese ‘dragon’ and the Indian ‘elephant’ must not fight each other, but dance with each other,” invoking a note of hope that if China and India are united, “one plus one will equal not only two, but also eleven.”
During their meeting at the BRICS summit in Xiamen last September, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed that the development of sound relations between the two nations is a force of stability amidst today’s global uncertainties, and that the two countries should not allow their differences to become disputes.
Since then, both sides have maintained regular exchange, most notably with a series of top-level visits. Foreign Minister Wang and Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi traveled to India last December, and India’s second female Defense Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, will visit China in April. Her visit is expected to enhance friendly exchange between the two sides’ militaries, which came to a halt last year during the Doklam incident. Prime Minister Modi is also planning to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's summit in Qingdao this June.
According to the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, bilateral trade last year reached USD$88 billion, an increase of 20 percent compared with the year before. A Chinese ballet ensemble and a folk arts troupe performed in Kolkata and New Delhi in February as part of the Spring Festival celebrations. The Bollywood movies “Secret Superstar” and “Bajrangi Bhaijaan” have been well received by Chinese audiences recently. And the Global Times reported that yoga has entered the public school system in some cities across China.
Despite these successes of political and cultural exchange, China must still address longstanding issues of concern for India, such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the fight against terrorism. As such, it's encouraging to hear that Wang called for both sides to shed their “confrontationist stance on issues of differences” in order to make the two nations strong and prosperous.
Though India and China have their disagreements, cooperation is better than confrontation. Leadership of both countries should put aside their disputes and instead focus on creating a better future for the 2.5 billion people residing on either side of the Himalayas.
Rabi Sankar Bosu, Secretary of New Horizon Radio Listeners’ Club, West Bengal, India.
This article is reprinted from China.org.cn.