Hindi-Chini: Bhai, Bhai?
Both nations have the opportunity to bury the hatchet and work together to strengthen our Asian economies.
Aamir Khan is popular; in fact, he's currently very popular in China. His popularity has been growing since his '3 Idiots' and 'PK' days, and with his last film, 'Dangal', Khan has become a cinematic sensation. The stupendous success of the star and the film was reflected in the Rs 1,200 crore that the film grossed in China. The Chinese market seems so attractive to new-age Indian filmmakers that they are making a beeline for it. After Dangal's phenomenal success, 'Baahubali 2' and Salman Khan-starrer 'Tubelight' are also in queue for the Chinese release. Indian films are vying for exposure to the Chinese market in spite of the Chinese government's import quota that restricts foreign movie imports to only 34 titles a year. The Chinese market had been until yesterday largely ignored by the Indian filmmakers.
It's not just cinema; China can be an appealing ally to various Indian industries and endeavours. Recently, it was in the news that state-run Chinese firms are interested in picking up stake in Indian power and construction companies. And why wouldn't they be? India has ambitious plans of investing over Rs 3.96 trillion to develop infrastructure in the country, which presents a more than lucrative opportunity for seasoned infrastructure developers from China. Government-controlled companies such as China Harbour Engineering Co. Ltd and China Datang Corp. (CDC) are eyeing Indian companies in the engineering, procurement, construction (EPC) and power generation sectors.
In the past, Chinese interest in Indian telecom had also been strong. However, due to strategic concerns, India blocked telecom equipment from China. While our neighbouring country struggles to regain and retain economic growth, India has always been a favourable market. With Chinese funds, we could also look to harness the expertise and liquidity proffered by Chinese companies. However, almost always standing in our way are security concerns. Indian firms such as the Essel Group are already exploring collaborations with China's largest solar equipment manufacturer, GCL-Poly Energy Holdings Ltd. While we can't give away posts of strategic importance, one wonders if there couldn't be a middle path in the future? A way of using Chinese interest in Indian businesses to our advantage.
It's time perhaps to bite the bitter bullet and put on a new thinking cap vis-à-vis China. Both nations are and will be the beacons of economic hope in a slowing global economy. Even in the crucial matter of climate change, China and India must lead the way instead of relying on the US. Both countries have pledged support to fight climate change. And with the US rescinding on its commitment, China and India can form a powerful alliance that is aimed at protecting and conserving the environment.
China and India have similar histories – their old and rich past, the struggle to get their large populations out of the clutches of poverty, and forging into the world to create robust non-western economies. It's about time that that commonality between the two nations should herald an age of economic and strategic collaboration. This cooperation must be based on long-standing trust keeping the goal of mutual growth and geopolitical stability in mind. China too must rejig its India view and if its wishes to be a serious partner to us. It must review some of its pending issues with India such as opposition to India's membership at the Nuclear Supplier's Group. One wonders what India and China could achieve simply by working with each other rather than against each other. Can't we all just get along?
(Views expressed are strictly personal)