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Chinese hand of friendship

Xi Jinping’s recent overture to India is a welcome move that must be taken in the right spirit by the political and business classes back here. Unveiling his ‘five-point formula’ for improving bilateral relations with India, the Chinese president has taken the first and bold step towards strengthening and cementing ties of these two ancient neighbours and the largest developing economies in the world. Together, China and India boast of a population of 2.5 billion, and more than half of that comprises the young and working sections. Hence, talks of taking the relations to the ‘right track’ emanating from the Chinese top brass is cause for cheer in the corridors of power here in India. President Xi’s address to BRICS journalists expressly mentions that cooperation between the Asian giants is a must to ‘safeguard the interests of developing nations’, which is an astute observation as well as an unavoidable reality. With the global economic crunch still being felt across Europe and North America, it is the growing Asian economies upon which the hopes of reigniting the fires of economic re-expansion and capital inflow and outflow have been pinned. In this context, Indo-Chinese cooperation becomes the starting point of any major global reorganisation, both economic and political.

However, it is also important to remember that India has had reasons to worry about Chinese intentions in the past. Whether it is a matter of gross misinterpretation is another debate, but the border dispute along Arunachal Pradesh frontier refuses to die. Further, China is still reluctant to support inclusion of India as a permanent member of United Nations Security Council, particularly in the light of growing security threats to Indian nation from terrorists harboured in our western neighbours. India’s crucial role in war against terror as well as in intelligence gathering cannot be discounted any more and China needs to come to terms with that sooner than later. Moreover, in order to pursue development at a faster pace, China and India must collaborate on platforms, especially given the complementarity of skills available in the two countries. It must also be noted that the new Chinese leadership belongs to a very different generation and looks poised to take China to the next level of global economic stronghold and cooperation. Under the aegis of President Xi, the possibility of a Sino-Indian bond looks real and feasible. However, thorny issues such as Tibet and Taiwan for the Chinese and Kashmir for the Indians are here to stay, and resolution of these contentious matters needs more dialogue and not diplomatic standoffs. Both the countries are inextricably entangled in the larger economic and political Asian narrative, and New Delhi and Beijing must reboot their ties to become suitable partners sharing the 21st century burdens and responsibilities equally. Though Xi has made the right start, it remains to be seen if his good intentions can be carried out without ruffling some Indian feathers.
MPost

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