India destined to participate in the B&R initiative

By Wang Dehua Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/1 21:58:40

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT


The attitude of India toward the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative has been making headlines. Although doubts remain, I believe that India will participate sooner or later, because for India, the advantages of being an active participant far outweigh the disadvantages.

Former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee once claimed that both countries have the ability and willingness to gain more benefits for their peoples under the consensus of strengthening strategic cooperation and seeking pragmatic development.

However, a few elites in India thought that the B&R initiative represents the expansion of China's influence to South Asia and the Indian Ocean region. They fear that if it is connected with the development plans of the countries neighboring India, it will be a threat to India.

However, I strongly believe that India will finally agree that it's in its own best interests to be involved.

It is conducive to the linking of Sino-Indian development and the settlement of the bilateral trade deficit. As the world's two most important developing countries, the opportunities and challenges both face are highly similar. The two countries are expected to achieve an early harvest in cooperating in fields such as railways, industrial parks and smart cities. There are huge complementary advantages in the areas of new energy, energy conservation, environmental protection, information technology and human resources.

In 1992, the bilateral trade was valued at only $339 million. By 2002, it had reached $4.95 billion. This figure rose further to $66.4 billion by 2012. From 2001 to 2011, the average annual growth rate of bilateral trade reached 36.28 percent. Such development speed is rare in the external relations between China and India.

The strong complementarity of trade between the two countries contributed to these achievements. India is relatively strong in terms of information technology, knowledge-intensive industries and technology-intensive industries. Those sectors include the pharmaceutical industry, customized services, automotive parts and components, design and management.

China's advantage is in hardware. Through years of reform and opening-up, it has become a global manufacturing hub and can produce almost every kind of product.

Trade is conducive to human exchanges and the deepening of traditional friendship and the resolution of border issues left over from history. Cultural exchanges have always been a key topic for high-level mutual visits. The two countries have a rich material and spiritual legacy going back thousands of years, and this is an important foundation for their improving friendship.

Cooperation in the fields of education, culture, arts and mass media not only offers great commercial value but also an important platform for civil exchanges and mutual trust building.

Issues left over from history should not hinder the continued development of bilateral relations. Far-sighted Indian people also advocate shelving disputes, strengthening cooperation and employing all diplomatic and political means to maintain peace and tranquility in their border areas.

The author is a research fellow with the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.


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