World needs stable and predictable Sino-Indian relations

By Zhang Jiadong Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/5 10:08:07

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

It's widely believed that China-India relations will likely become one of the most important bilateral relations. The change in Sino-Indian ties comes as a result of the changing world order and the two countries' rapid rise.

As the planet undergoes profound changes and transformation along with economic globalization and diverse international relations, multiple economies are shaping a multipolar world order. Asia's GDP tops the world and China has become the world's second largest economy. India is committed to developing its economy. Countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia have developed ambitious economic plans and exhibited enormous potential for an economic boom. The positive change in the densely populated region will be of vital importance to human history.

By contrast, traditional developed countries have already shown signs of decline and been beset by thorny issues such as demographic problems, a social welfare crisis and deteriorating democracy. The US will become more fragmented, and find it difficult to reach political consensus after 30 to 40 years. Japan is plagued by an aging population and surging hedonism among its people. Europe has been on the decline for decades. 

In the past, China and India were marginalized in the global arena. Communications were inadequate because of geographical limitations and as a result, the two countries attached little importance to bilateral relations.  For India, its relations with China were less important than India-Pakistan ties. For China, its relations with India took a back seat compared to China's ties with the US, the EU, Japan and Russia. 

However, as Beijing and New Delhi are playing a more important role in the global community, bilateral ties have taken on an entirely new outlook. China-India relations have grown more independent. The Sino-Indian border conflict broke out in 1962 around the same time as the Cuba missile crisis against the backdrop of the US and the Soviet Union wooing India and severing ties with China. But now China and India have become more independent and are capable of shedding the negative impact posed by other diplomatic ties.

Sino-Indian relations are gaining more influence and importance in the world. The bilateral ties were not a decisive factor during the Cold War period. Beijing and New Delhi had even less say in the global arena after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The two countries exerted a limited influence on the two Gulf Wars and the break-up of former Yugoslavia. India conducted nuclear tests in 1998 to draw world attention and raise its global status. But now China-India ties are important to regional security and the international landscape, which can be clearly seen from the US and Japan's attempt to rope in India.

Trade and cultural exchange between China and India in the 20th century weighed less for bilateral ties. Now Sino-Indian ties are growing more important to their politics, economy and security. Support of each other is vital to their influence in the region and in the world. 

It is highly likely that China and India will maintain sound growth momentum and improve their international status. China-India ties will rise to become one of the most significant bilateral relations across the globe in the next 20 to 30 years. For China, its relationship with India is comparable to that with Japan. For India, its diplomatic ties with China will be one of the most important bilateral relations between India and other states. Beijing-New Delhi relations are expected to be stable and predictable in the foreseeable future, which is needed for regional and global development.

The author is director of the Center of South Asian Studies, Fudan University.

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