Interaction with Chinese delegation on ‘India-China Relations in the New Era’
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The Vivekananda International Foundation (VIF) organised a Round Table Discussion with a delegation from the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) on ‘India-China Relations in the New Era’ - after China’s 19th People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and National People’s Congress (NPC). Dr. Arvind Gupta, Director, VIF chaired the proceedings. There were two presentations from the Indian side and two from the Chinese side.

Chinese Delegation

The major points highlighted by the Chinese side were that it is a very interesting and a very important time for India and China. One can look at this relationship from either glass half empty or glass half full perspective. In addition to there is a major transformation of the global order underway. India and China today contribute more public goods for the rest of the world. There is a need to expand this bilateral relationship. Both India and China are important players in organizations like BRICS, SCO, G20 etc. It was China, India and the emerging powers which helped the world during the global financial crisis thus beginning the end of the End of History discourse by Fukuyama. The West has also failed to enhance global governance, it was argued.

Under the leadership of Xi Jinping there are new changes underway and a new understanding is necessary with the call of the ‘New Era’. On the other hand China will be eager to become more active in the Indian Ocean Region as China uses it for a major portion of its trade. China will also be keen on getting involved in the South Asian region. With respect to Pakistan, China is deeply engaged in improving the condition of Pakistan as it believes that an unstable Pakistan is in not in anyone’s interest.

India and China have been the major beneficiaries of globalization. There is a need for increased trade between India and China and new Free Trade Agreements can be established. There is an urgent need to fight the new conservative approach of the developed countries towards free trade and commerce. Since the introduction of reform and opening up, China has developed at a rapid pace and has managed to lift a large section of its population out of poverty. China today is looking for ways to further expand its global outreach in the sectors such as automobile and aeronautics. India has a great opportunity to cooperate with China.

Indian Delegation

The major points highlighted by the Indian side were that China and India will soon be the 2nd and the 3rd largest economies globally; however there is an urgent need to address the key structural issues that have become obstacle to the growth of bilateral ties, including the territorial issue, CPEC, China’s position on India’s entry into NSG, Pakistan based terrorism, the growing trade deficit etc. By keeping these issues unresolved to the detriment of India’s interest creating a positive environment for trust and stable ties. In order to address this China and India will have to look for ways to restructure their ties in the area of trade. The Chinese side will have to make changes in some of their policies which prevent the Indian industries access to the markets in China. Some of the sectors where India has an advantage like pharmaceuticals, services etc. need to have access to China. The Chinese economy has very rigid policies and has not helped the Indian side to gain any foothold in China. Indian entrepreneurs also find it difficult to access information about the process of registration and de-registrations in China.

In the backdrop of the meeting between Indian Foreign Minister between Sushma Swaraj and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi the roundtable discussion was important. The upcoming visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes in the shadows of major problems between both sides. The visit itself is a special and rare gesture made by India. There are structural problems between India China and mere cosmetic changes will not suffice. Doklam was a low point in this relationship. India believes that in its immediate periphery its influence is being undermined by China on both land and the maritime domain. India and China today do not have any major confluence on geo-political issues which had been developed by both sides till 2005. China and India do not share the same world view anymore and differ on major global issues. India believes that China today is just paying lip service to the idea of multi-polarity while wanting to be the pre-eminent player while India prefers a multipolar world. In the backdrop of the outcome of the 19th Party Congress and the NPC there needs to be increased dialogue between India and China otherwise the misperceptions will only expand. India believes that there is a need for a new basis for taking this relationship forward. There is a need to maintain peace and tranquility in the border regions if this relationship has to progress and a need to go back to what both sides had agreed in 2005 ‘political parameters and guidelines for early settlement of the border question’. India feels that China is no more interested in the 2005 guidelines. There is also a need for closer dialogue on strategic issues. India can also gain a lot from the Chinese economy. China needs to take advantage of ‘Make in India’ and change the structure of the trade.

Conclusion

Both sides agreed that there are a large number of issues between both sides and they carry a huge baggage of history. There cannot be solved overnight. There is a need to create increased trust and compatibility. All these issues need bilateral efforts and China and India need to come together to solve these issues. The Chinese side felt there are a number of misconceptions regarding BRI and China’s relations with Pakistan. China will create a huge opportunities for capacity building through BRI. Beijing cannot make decisions unilaterally. And one needs to look at this relationship as not a zero sum game. China-India relations are enormously important and there is a need to work on it. In India public opinion is very important, and the solving accumulated issues are very important. There needs to be a very visible commitment towards solving them. It is also necessary to discuss whether China is actually moving away from the 2005 agreement, and whether India is being hollowed out by the Chinese exports and persistent trade deficit. This can become a major survival issue for Indians. There is also a need to understand the concept of ‘New Era’ mooted by President Xi Jinping and what it implies for the world and India.

Event Date: 
April 23, 2018