Meeting creates trans-Himalayan opportunity

By Li Tao Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/6 19:53:39

An informal meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was held in Wuhan in late April. Although no joint statement or declaration was made, the meeting was the result of the two countries' relentless efforts, a choice that has stood the test and is exerting subtle influences on the world. It heralds a new era, just as Xi said: "The great cooperation between our two great countries can influence the world."

The Xi-Modi meeting and the improvement in Sino-Indian ties is a necessary requirement for the two countries' growth. It meets the need of their developmental strategies. As the world's fastest growing powers, both Beijing and New Delhi need stability and peace for development. The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China has laid out a magnificent blueprint of developing China into a great modern socialist country by the middle of the 21st century. India has also put forward the New India 2022 strategy.

The Xi-Modi meeting is a requirement for the two countries' economic development as well. In 2015, the Indian economy's growth rate surpassed that of China. But the abolition of high-value rupee notes and the goods and services tax reform triggered chaos and rising nationalism, making the country's growth rate fall below expectations in 2016 and 2017. India is seeking new economic growth points especially with the approaching 2019 general election. China's Belt and Road initiative welcomes India's participation.

The cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and India are in full momentum. Both Beijing and New Delhi have learned from the Doklam standoff that hostility will only bring losing results and perish the goal of an Asian Century.

The Xi-Modi meeting will exert positive effects on Sino-Indian bilateral relations. For a long time, the development of the Beijing-New Delhi relationship was unbalanced, for which a lack of trust was the key reason. The meeting between the two leaders is a good beginning for the two countries to dispel suspicions and strengthen mutual trust. The two heads of state have attached great importance to Sino-Indian ties. Ambassadors and officials of the two countries are also sparing no effort in intensifying their exchanges, exerting far-reaching influences on scholars, businessmen, media and the public.

The summit is of profound significance to the region and the world. It's worth noting that the Seoul-Pyongyang summit was successfully held at the same time as the Xi-Modi meeting. In fact, several pairs of relations in Asia have seen drastic positive changes: for instance, warming Sino-Japanese ties. Only by steady and comprehensive cooperation among Asian countries can the Asian Century and multi-polarization be realized, which will help promote long-term stability and peace in the world.

The Xi-Modi meeting has opened a new chapter in Sino-Indian relations. Promoting cooperation in the trans-Himalayan region is the top priority at the current stage.

Cooperation maximizes the interests of China and India. Cooperation in the trans-Himalayan region will promote the two countries' development and stability and help address their religious and ethnic issues.

Sino-Indian cooperation is beneficial to South Asia's development. India's previous hegemony in the region has not only jeopardized regional economic growth but also upset India's relations with other countries, resulting in geopolitical quagmires. Trans-Himalayan cooperation will help address traditional and non-traditional security issues in the region, resist intervention by exterior forces and facilitate societal and economic development of regional countries.

The Himalayan region has half of the world's population and abundant water, energy and strategic resources, contributing to nearly one-third of the world's economy. Establishing regional and sub-regional cooperative mechanisms in trans-Himalaya is of tremendous geostrategic significance to the region, Asia and the globe.

International scholars have reached consensus on promoting trans-Himalayan cooperation. To begin with, India and China must strengthen political mutual trust among regional countries and explore ways to jointly develop the economy. Secondly, they must tackle regional agendas under the international framework, but recognize that regional and exterior countries should be treated differently. Thirdly, collaboration with the central governments and local administrations are needed, especially in border areas. Fourthly, they must start with the fields where collaboration is easier, take all stakeholders' interests into account and put border disputes under control. Fifthly, China and India should strengthen infrastructure construction so as to aid connectivity and promote integration of the region. Last but not least, they must explore innovative cooperation patterns and follow the path of leapfrog development.

The author is executive director of the Institute of South Asian Studies, Sichuan University and the chief researcher for Belt and Road trans-Himalayan cooperation, a key project of the National Social Science Fund of China.


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