People-to-people diplomacy can usher in new chapter in Sino-Indian relations

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/4/23 22:58:39

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to travel to China this week to hold informal talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The informal meeting is expected to start a new era of communication between the two emerging Asian powers.

Personal conversations would be more useful than a formal state visit to boost strategic trust. This may show why Modi plans to meet with Xi on Friday, just several weeks before the formal summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in June, when Modi is scheduled to visit China again.

China and India have had different levels of formal diplomatic communications and consultations on major issues, the existing frameworks and mechanisms need to be extended to help them avoid conflicts like the military standoff in Doklam last year.

China is willing to hold not only formal, technical discussions with India to exchange political and economic views, but also relaxed conversations to strengthen strategic trust in a timely manner through different channels.

When the two countries focus more on having an "emotional exchange," one can hope for better things to come.

Personnel exchanges will be an indispensable part of efforts to enhance emotional communication and mutual trust. For instance, the Indian government has recently launched an initiative to attract more foreign students to Indian campuses. China is eager to cooperate with India to strengthen exchanges among young people.

Although Sino-Indian relations have been sometimes affected by complex geopolitical disputes, person-to-person exchanges offer the best chance to resolve regional conflicts. Exchanges among young people can be strengthened as the digital economy is emerging in both countries. Young people will determine the future of Sino-Indian relations.

The function of person-to-person diplomacy has been proved in diplomatic practice. The two countries can take the upcoming summit as a starting point to open a new chapter in their relationship.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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