B&R is perfect platform to bolster India-China ties

By Ishu Jain Source:Global Times Published: 2016/7/7 0:18:00

Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT


China-India relations have always been the most important bilateral relations in Asia and the world. At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee paid a state visit to Beijing in May to exchange views on bilateral ties and issues of shared interest with Chinese leaders. This was one of the most important high-level interactions between the two countries this year, demonstrating that ties between the two most populous nations have entered a new era of rapid growth.

However, some international media and officials have ramped up rhetoric to stir tension between China and India, including alarming comments alleging that China's motive in securing the South China Sea is to target the Indian Ocean. In their usual fashion, they also tried to overplay the two neighbors' border dispute in the Himalayas and their military and defense dynamics while ignoring the achievements and potential for economic cooperation between the two nations.

Both China and India, as responsible powers, have negotiated with each other, managed their disputes and preserved peace in the region for three decades. While China may not be very concerned by tightening ties between India and the US and Japan, Mukherjee's visit shows India's efforts to balance its relations with these countries. Although China and India will be drawn into defense cooperation with other countries in the current era of multipolar world dynamics, both are wise enough to always keep their bilateral relations on an upward trend.

Recently, China supported India and Pakistan's full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), signaling China's intention to improve bilateral relations. Strengthened bilateral cooperation will not only safeguard each country's national interests, but will also encourage them to join hands to improve global governance. India and Pakistan's participation in the SCO can help ease tensions in South Asia and lay the foundation for more regional economic cooperation, especially under the One Belt and One Road initiative, which could prove to be the perfect platform to enhance India's regional and bilateral relationships.

India lies at the important junction of the initiative's Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, interlinking the vast consumer markets of South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East and East Africa. Both the Belt and Road incorporate regional loops and branches that extend the reach of emerging transportation networks. Of particular interest to India is the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor, which proposes connecting Southwest China's Yunnan Province with Myanmar, Bangladesh and eastern India. Construction of a high-speed rail link through the BCIM corridor will benefit both India and China, especially if China moves some of its labor-intensive industries to India. The corridor will provide investment and industrial development opportunities for India and will provide new export markets for Chinese goods and capital, which is very important not only for China but also for India's trade development with its neighbors. Furthermore, both the Belt and Road will traverse India's periphery, helping India develop its northeast and advance its "Act East" policy of prioritizing relations with East Asia. India and China are the world's fastest-growing large economies, and economic cooperation between them has become the principal drive behind a strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity. More Chinese investment in a plethora of fields in India could reduce its trade deficit with China, which has increased to more than $30 billion. India says it particularly wants more Chinese investment in roads, ports and other systems, and it would also like increased investment in manufacturing, an area in which India trails China.

The transfer of China's industrial capacity overseas already seems to be an unavoidable trend, and Chinese mobile producers Gionee, Vivo and ZTE all currently plan to move their production lines to India. Business magnates Terry Gou and Tim Cook also recently showed interest in moving their production plants to India. Foxconn is set to build at least 10 plants in India by 2020, creating 1 million jobs.

Many manufacturers are clearly betting on the fact that if they move to India now, they can enjoy the benefits of a fast-growing economy, just as China did for the past 20 years. This seems a perfectly natural course of events. As China moves up the value-added chain, someone has to fill the bottom rung of the ladder. India can assemble iPhones and PC circuit boards, while China can export high-speed rail, nuclear and aerospace technology.

China's Premier Li Keqiang has even suggested that the two sides align China's "Made in China 2025" and "Internet Plus" initiatives with India's "Make in India" and "Digital India" campaigns. As the Chinese steel, construction, machinery, textile and electronics industries are eager to enter the Indian market, and India's IT, pharmacy and chemical industries are waiting to tap into the Chinese market, there is a great need for a platform where industries, capital and technologies can connect.

The future direction of the Sino-Indian relationship depends on whether the nations' economic activities can alleviate long-standing concerns. Industrial cooperation can not only directly benefit the growth of both countries, but can also help reduce distrust between Indians and Chinese, weaken nationalist sentiment in both societies and offer new perspectives on each other's rise. Moreover, cooperation between China and India will not only promote their peace, prosperity and development but also that of the world. The two sides should stick to the theme of neighborly friendship and reciprocal cooperation to cement their relationship and benefit the people of both countries.

Cultural cooperation such as the recent India-China Yoga Conference, joint film productions such as Kung Fu Yoga, joint archaeological projects related to Buddhism, university exchanges and other activities are some of the two vibrant nations' most powerful tools to enhance people-to-people connections and spread awareness about each other's cultures. The cooperation and development of China and India will not only benefit one-third of the global population, but also help global economic recovery and growth.

The author is an India-born, Shanghai-based international business consultant. He can be reached at ishujain@163.com. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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