Wen's India trip to renew ties by re-study of past experiences

15:42, December 17, 2010      

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At the turn of the year, people will review the outgoing year and look to the future. Premier Wen Jiabao's ongoing visit to India has marked a "satisfactory full stop" to a series of activities in celebration of the 60th anniversary of China-India diplomatic relations in 2010. The visit also signifies the launch of the "Cultural Cooperation from 2010 to 2012 Implementation Plan".

This is Premier Wen's second trip to India, which has done away with the conventional practice for leaders of both nations to exchange visits only once during their tenure of office after the normalization of bilateral ties. This itself has not only indicated the great importance the Chinese government attached to Sino-India ties but epitomizes the rapid growth of Sino-India relations in the first decades of the 21st century.

Premier Wen Jiabao and his India counterpart Manmohan Singh on Thursday reaffirmed their commitment to promote bilateral relations. Wen said that the two countries should grasp the historical opportunity to boost political and strategic mutual trust and move forward the China-India relations along the track of lasting friendship, mutually beneficial cooperation and common development. Moreover, in a speech he gave at the Indian Council of World Affairs on the same day, Wen said the two countries agree that there is enough space in the world for the development of both China and India and enough areas for the two countries to cooperate.

The engagement and consultations between leaders of the two nations have become increasingly closer since the "strategic and cooperative partnership" was forged during Wen's previous visit to India in April 2005. In addition to an exchange of high-level visits, the leaders of the two giant neighbors met and communicated with each other annually on such great multilateral occasions as the UN General Assembly, the Group of Eight (G8) Summit and the Group of Twenty (G20) Summit, the Summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the China-Russia-India Trilateral Summit, the East Asia Summit (EAS) and a summit of the leaders from Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC).

To date, this high-level mutual induction or interactions between the two countries has constituted not only a major thrust into the right track but also a strong guarantee for their "strategic rise" in the new international situation.

During his current visit to India, Premier Wen has an in-depth exploration on the wide-ranging areas of concern and global issues with Indian leaders. Thanks to their strong performance, China and India have not only taken the lead in economic recovery from global financial crisis, but have given a strong impetus to the endeavor to change the international order. However, stark challenges and severe tests China and India facing in the process of their "rise" could hardly be imagined by other traditional powers.

The splendid future of Sino-India relationship is definitely to deepen strategic cooperation continuously and, otherwise, the genuine rise of the two Asian nations will be out of the question. It is precisely for this very reason, Sino-Indian bilateral ties have overstepped the bilateral scope with a profound global, strategic significance; it is also for this reason, the two nations will have a sense of utmost urgency to customize their high-level strategic consultations and, it is also precisely for this reason, Wen's second trip to India in his tenure of office is of particular significance.

Although leaders of China and India have committed themselves following the start of the new century to deepen their strategic cooperation, differences of this or that sort existing between the two nations have constantly restrained their political efforts. These issues are rather tough, including the Sino-Indian border issue, the issues regarding China-India-Pakistan ties and on the Kashmir and the trans-border water issue, and the Tibet issue, etc.

The leaders of both nations will however accumulate consensus on these issues through a frequent swap of visits and talks. These issues will be dealt with by the leaders of the two nations during Wen's current visit. But due to their high complexity, people can hardly expect that all these issues could be resolved overnight during a single high-level visit. Nevertheless, the leaders of the two countries will gradually amass consensus, dilute difference and ultimately find a solution.

Particularly noteworthy is a big trade imbalance, which the Indian side has kept complaining about over recent years, and Premier Wen has intended to seek a breakthrough in his visit. A Chinese business and trade delegation consisting of more than 400 entrepreneurs has accompanied Wen on the trip. China and India are expected to ink about 40 cooperation agreements worth more than 16.8 billion US dollars. This fully shows that the Chinese government is ready to take earnest efforts to tackle differences between the two sides and deepen their strategic cooperation so as to reduce drag or obstruction involved.

Perhaps, it is more appropriate to refer to Premier Wen's India trip as having marked a perfect "semi-colon" as the friendly exchanges and strategic cooperation between the two thriving emerging nations with superb civilizations will neither end with a "full stop" nor should be said to have "a full stop".

By People's Daily Online and its author is Prof. Hu Shisheng, Deputy Director of the Institute of South Asia Studies affiliated to the Chinese Institute of Contemporary International Relations Institute (CICIR)
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