Indian FM wins recognition for using ‘Asian Century’ to call for strengthened ties with China, but border issue should not be an obstacle: expert
Published: Aug 19, 2022 10:14 PM
Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar Photo: AFP

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar Photo: AFP

Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar's comments that used "Asian Century," a much-quoted term by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in meeting with then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988, to call on China and India to work together, should be valued by both sides, Chinese analysts said, stressing that it's especially significant for China and India to jointly inject more stability into the world and not let the border issue hinder bilateral relations.

Responding to a question after delivering a lecture on "India's Vision of the Indo-Pacific" at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand on Thursday, Jaishankar said that the Asian Century would happen when China and India came together, but it would be difficult for this to happen if India and China could not come together, according to Indian media outlet PTI.

"I think if India and China have to come together, there are many reasons to do so, not necessarily only Sri Lanka," he said. 

But Jaishankar also said that at the moment, the bilateral relationship is "going through an extremely difficult phase after what China did at the border," according to PTI. In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at Friday's media briefing that China and India have maintained smooth communication and exchanges on the border issue, with effective dialogue and cooperation. 

Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Friday that the expression "Asian Century" has served as a driving force for China and India to normalize and strengthen their relations since 1988, and Jaishankar's use of the term in stressing the need for a friendly bilateral relationship is worth praising.

The expression "Asian Century" was first used by former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. In 1988, when he met with then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, he pointed out that unless the two countries [China and India] are developed, there will be no Asian century.

Qian said that the consensus reached in 1988 of not connecting border issue with bilateral relations was an important reason for the rapid development of bilateral relations in the decades following the meeting, and it's still vital now. 

It seemed that Jaishankar linked China to the border issues in his remarks, but India actually knows clearly the merits of the matter, and the two countries will continue communications on the issue, Qian said.

"It's of great importance that China and India work together to jointly tackle global issues amid complicated international conditions, and not let the border issue become an obstacle in bilateral relations," Qian said, noting that the two are important forces in contributing to Asian and global stability through bilateral and multilateral cooperation forums, such as the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). 

At the SCO interior ministers' meeting on Thursday, both China and India expressed the need to stringently crack down on terrorism and cooperate in cybersecurity. 

When China-Indian relations showed positive momentum this year with frequent exchanges such as the two meetings between State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Jaishankar, some Indian and Western media outlets tried to sow discord between the two countries, analysts said. 

When speaking about the Quad, of which India is a member, Jaishankar said on Thursday that "if there are reservations (about the Quad) in any quarter, these stem from a desire to exercise a veto on the choices of others. And possibly, a unilateralist opposition to collective and cooperative endeavors," according to the Deccan Herald. His words were interpreted by the Indian media as "intended to dismiss criticism of the Quad by China."

At Friday's media briefing, Wang Wenbin reiterated China's stance on the Quad, saying that in the era of peace, cooperation, openness and win-win cooperation, forming cliques is unpopular, goes against the trend and has no future. 

Experts believed that there are some forces in India that have exercised vigilance about China's activities but the Indian government has been cautious about it.