India, China ties enter new trajectory

An informal meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping, over April 27-28 can be seen as the turning point in diplomatic and economic relations between the two neighbours

April 29, 2018

The summit held at Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei province, assumed great importance as the participants, China and India, are the world’s second-largest economy and the world’s fastest-growing major economy, respectively

The nations together represent 35.5 per cent of global population; A strong relation between the Asian powers, with a fair degree of strategic autonomy, promises overall prosperity of the larger Asian region as well as development of global economy

PM Modi’s visit comes a month after India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had travelled to China to participate in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a Eurasian group of eight nations

A stronger India-China ties will help better tackle global developments that can potentially lead to trade wars and mass protectionism, thus destabilising global economic order; Bilateral trade between the nation is valued at over US$84 billion

An informal meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the President of People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, over April 27-28 can be seen as the turning point in diplomatic and economic relations between the two neighbours. The summit held at Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei province, assumed great importance as the participants, China and India, are the world’s second-largest economy and the world’s fastest-growing major economy, respectively. The nations together represent 35.5 per cent of global population, or the largest growing consumer basket in the world. A strong relation between the Asian powers, with a fair degree of strategic autonomy, promises overall prosperity of the larger Asian region as well as development of global economy. The summit was particularly unique as the two leaders discussed wide-ranging issues without the constraints of predetermined agenda and delegation-level talks or the protocol-bound trappings of a bilateral summit, which invested the event with unparalleled success.

The summit focussed on overarching issues of bilateral, regional and global importance. A statement from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs stated that the two leaders elaborated on their respective visions and priorities for national development in the context of current and future international landscape. Meanwhile, a statement from China’s Ministry Foreign Affairs asserted that a peaceful relationship between China and India was a crucial positive factor for global stability. To achieve this, the two countries will work together to promote balanced and fair international relations. The two leaders spoke to each other for several hours, on separate occasions, over the two days. While the underlying understanding was that the two leaders would only discuss broad issues and leave the nitty-gritties to designated interlocutors, the long and extended sessions do indicate that PM Modi and President Xi felt certain issues merited detailed deliberations. The meeting was critical to ease concerns around India-China trade which is valued at over US$84 billion.

The ground for PM Modi’s visit was laid by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who had travelled to China in April to participate in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO)

The ground for PM Modi’s visit was laid by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who had travelled to China in April to participate in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The Eurasian group promotes political, economic, and security ties among its members – China, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. India has sought to strengthen relations in its extended neighbourhood to allow for improved trade as well as people-to-people exchanges, more so since the region represents the world’s fastest growing population, and in turn consumer market. Keeping these goals in mind, the meeting between PM Modi and President Xi assumed further significance in light of an unprecedented summit between the two Koreas with the potential to redraw geopolitical power structure. A stronger India-China ties will help better tackle global developments that can potentially lead to trade wars and mass protectionism, thus destabilising global economic order.

A shared vision from both the nations – given their economic and trade heft as the world’s two largest emerging economies as well as their avowed belief in multipolarity and multilateralism – has the potential to influence the current global economic order. In line with this, an important decision emerged from the meetings at Wuhan. Both countries have decided to work together on an economic project in war-ravaged Afghanistan. This decision has immense geopolitical consequences, especially since war reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan so far have failed to stem the tide of terrorism. Both countries have a stake in a peaceful Afghanistan and would like to demonstrate their interest in fostering a safe and peaceful neighbourhood. The nations also recognised the need to address a misaligned balance in bilateral trade and investment. China said that a strong partnership will tap into the full potential of business and investment cooperation, set new targets, harness positive forces, and explore new ways of cooperation to achieve win­-win results.

The two leaders ended the two-day summit with a deeper understanding of each other’s agendas and a clearer perception of the way forward. PM Modi said that India and China represent ancient civilizations and share many similarities in their historical development. This has encouraged cultural exchanges between the two countries spanning Indian films’ rising popularity in China to Chinese cuisine’s following in India. The Indian Government has urged Indians and Chinese to learn each other’s languages to improve communication that holds the key to better relation. PM Modi added that the two sides should increase mutual understanding, give play to wisdom of both the countries and work together to deal with global issues and challenges. President Xi Jinping suggested that both sides should look at the complete picture of Sino­-Indian ties from a strategic perspective, so as to ensure that relations between the two countries always proceed in forward direction. He called for continuous strengthening of friendly relations between the two countries so that their friendship can continue to flow like the Yangtze and Ganges rivers.