Pragmatic approach can improve China-India ties

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/4/23 20:13:40

The leaders of about 40 foreign governments will attend the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF), which will begin in Beijing on Thursday, but India is likely to boycott the meeting. India's possible absence is not surprising, and there is no need to read too much into it.

The relationship of the world's two most populous countries is more complex than many other bilateral relationships, such as those of India and most of its other neighbors. Collaboration and competition both contribute to establishing comprehensive ties between the two emerging economies, and coordination on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is just a small part.

India is much stronger than years before, but it seems to have become more sensitive to changes in South Asia. The BRI that touches upon areas where the Indian people most feel vulnerable - Kashmir-related issues - deserves attention to avoid allowing the initiative to become a bottleneck in China-India relations. 

Bilateral trade and investment between China and India have been on an uptrend. Many possibilities lie ahead for the two countries. So why focus on negative sentiment toward the BRI?

The China-India relationship has passed through the most difficult times. The linchpin is finding the proper solutions to a range of practical problems. It's impossible to solve every problem overnight, especially a lack of strategic mutual trust, but small achievements from revolving practical issues will add up, elevating the bilateral relationship steadily to a higher level.

India has for long been worried about its large trade deficit with the world's second-largest economy. China is willing to grant more market access to Indian exporters in a bid to explore India's export potential in fields such as agriculture, film, tourism and labor-intensive industries. 

Economic statistics have offered some positive signals as media reports said India cut its trade deficit with China by $10 billion to $53 billion in the financial year ended March 31, the most in more than ten years. 

But a sound bilateral relationship needs to be reciprocal. We hope that India can provide fair treatment to Chinese enterprises and abandon its long-held mind-set that its own industries can only be developed by cracking down on foreign companies and imported goods, especially from China. 

Although there are differences over the BRI, China and India are likely to hold a Wuhan-style summit meeting this year to improve fraught ties. Informal dialogue between Chinese and Indian leaders will help create a comfortable atmosphere in which officials can take a pragmatic approach to solve practical problems faced by the two emerging giants.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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