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Home >> Opinion
UPDATED: 15:53, June 08, 2006
China and India cooperate to find a win-win path
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Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee recently paid a visit to China. Prior to his departure, Mukherjee announced that he hoped his visit would strengthen co-operation between the Chinese and Indian Air Forces. Both Asian and Western media forecasted that Mukherjee's visit would be instrumental in furthering Sino-Indian bilateral military cooperation and increasing mutual political trust between the two countries.

The Sino-Indian military alliance has raised concerns in other parts of the worlds. Military cooperation between these two nations signifies something more than interaction between the two armies - it shows a deepening friendship and partnership that is of great political significance. Military cooperation is advantageous to both sides: it will foster a favorable international and regional situation, and provide a strategic foundation for mutual trust.

Sino-Indian military cooperation is not for the purpose of attack or defense against any third party. However if the world's two fastest developing countries can reach a point of mutual trust and reliance through military cooperation, the opportunity exists for them to play a very important and positive role in maintaining peace in the Asia-Pacific region and across the world.

The development of the bilateral relationship between China and India has coincided with rapid economic growth in both countries, raising concerns in some parts of the world. There are a variety of reasons for this. Firstly, the two countries have a history of conflict and remain divided over border issues and that makes things more complicated. Secondly, both countries have a huge population (accounting for one third of the world's people) and accordingly hold an important position in the international arena. Thirdly, since both China and India are in a period of rapid economic growth, there will inevitably be opportunities for complementary cooperation and competition. Of course, there is another concern: China and India are both nuclear powers and if they should ever compete for dominance in a heated contention they could endanger the Asia-Pacific region and global security. Such fears are more frequently expressed by Western observers.

Some Western scholars are attempting to predict the development of China and India using a more Western analysis of history. When discussing the two countries, they often use the Zero-sum theory to predict the outcome of their simultaneous development, but seldom consider, perhaps unwillingly, the potential for a win-win situation to develop from their relationship. In their view, there are only two possible outcomes �C either one country will "win" or both will be destroyed. Even more significant is the interference of some Western forces in the international political arena, who for a long time have been trying to create a "balance" by giving a free rein to one country and roping in the other.

It is undeniable that there is no historical precedent between China and India for the kind of relationship they are now trying to cultivate. There have been some misunderstandings and conflicts between the two countries. The exchanges are still insufficient and mutual understanding is still developing. However, in recent years, bilateral relations have opened discussions on these problems and suspicions have been gradually reduced. A senior Indian official said, "There is a way of mentioning the two countries in the international arena -'India versus China' - but I prefer to say 'India and China.'"

China and India have already established a strategic partnership. On January 24 last year the two held their first strategic dialogue. The talks held by Special Representatives on Sino-Indian border issues have also made positive progress. In recent years, Sino-Indian bilateral trade has increased with an average annual growth rate of 30 percent, up from US$2 billion in 2000 to $US18 billion in 2005. China and India have set the target for the volume of bilateral trade at US$20 billion by 2008, and they are expected to reach this one year ahead of schedule.

Sino-Indian military relations have increased the momentum of development. Mutual trust has deepened and friendly exchanges have been further expanded which has created a favorable atmosphere for maintaining peace and tranquility at the border areas.

China and India both have ancient civilizations, and the re-emergence of these nations has great significance. If China and India can work out a win-win path and create a new model of development and cooperation, then it will benefit the peoples of the two countries and the whole world.

By People's Daily Online

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