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UPDATED: September 2, 2014 NO. 8 FEBRUARY 20, 2014
Bordering on a Solution
China and India move bilateral relations forward with a comprehensive platform for peace
By Yu Lintao

The Indian side also revealed its optimism regarding this round of talks and the SR platform. "There is now a symbiotic process that has been set in place whereby issues relating to the border are fed into the SR process," Akbaruddin remarked after the talks.

Lan Jianxue, a research fellow on Indian studies with the China Institute of International Studies, said that the major significance of this round of talks is to demonstrate the determination of both sides to conclude the peaceful settlement of their border dispute through dialogue, and maintain the continually warming bilateral ties following the successful exchange of visits by Prime Minister Singh and Premier Li in 2013.

An enlarged platform

Besides the border issue talks, the SRs of both sides also had in-depth exchanges of views on bilateral relations as well as international and regional issues of mutual interest. Their topics touched on the situation in West Asia and the Middle East as well as the East Asia Summit process.

"The SR mechanism, originally designed to address the border issue negotiation, has been expanded into a larger platform for exchanges and cooperation between the two countries as their common interests around the world grow rapidly," Lan said to Beijing Review.

As two of the most populated and largest developing countries in the world, China and India have begun to share more common interests. The scope of their cooperation has also expanded from bilateral to regional as well as global issues, covering politics, the economy, security, and marine rights. They are faced with shared tasks such as reforming the international economic order, safeguarding regional stability, combating terrorism and guaranteeing marine security.

During the SR talks, the two sides reaffirmed that China and India are strategic cooperative partners and the strengthening of bilateral relations conforms to the common interests of the two countries and their people.

When meeting with Yang after the SR dialogue, Singh expressed hope that the two neighbors would strengthen cooperation in the Group of 20, BRICS and other multilateral frameworks to help encourage the global political and economic order to move toward a fairer and more reasonable direction.

He stressed that a long-term, stable and developing relationship between the two countries is the continuous choice of India and that the two sides should maintain the momentum for high-level exchanges to promote strategic coordination.

Lou said that given China's "opening to the west" policy and "west development" strategy, India's position in China's diplomacy became increasingly important. Meanwhile, the Indian side also pays much attention to its relations with China, especially as India is currently facing economic problems, and therefore "it is very necessary for India to strengthen economic cooperation with China," he added.

Lou pointed out that the proposed Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor and the Silk Road Economic Belt would be the focuses for practical China-India economic cooperation in the future.

Cultural exchanges

During Yang's trip to New Delhi, he also co-chaired the launching ceremony of the China-India Year of Friendly Exchanges together with Indian Vice President Mohammad Hamid Ansari. Within the next 12 months, the two countries will boost economic, cultural and people-to-people links through a series of activities.

Lan claimed that the two countries have been trying to enhance mutual trust and narrow differences through people-to-people exchanges for the past several years.

When addressing the launching ceremony, Ansari said, "What is sorely needed between India and China is a meeting of minds. If we can give this process a fillip during the Year of Friendly Exchanges, a good beginning would have been made."

"China-India cultural exchanges have played a very important role in promoting bilateral relations. In the past several years, the two countries have unremittingly hosted a variety of cultural exchange activities," said Lan. "They helped rev up comprehensive bilateral cooperation and exchanges, increasing mutual trust."

The Indian Government has introduced Chinese language studies in some middle schools in the country, as 22 Chinese teachers recently arrived in India to teach Indian students Mandarin. Ansari said it was an innovative idea and an excellent starting point. India also plans to highlight Indian culture in China through a program titled Glimpses of India during the year.

Lou said that, unlike the Western philosophy of "zero-sum thinking," the cultures of China and India emphasize peace and cooperation. He called on scholars from both countries to make more efforts to explore the deep-seated shared ideas in their cultures during the China-India Year of Friendly Exchanges this year, which will be helpful for promoting the in-depth development of bilateral relations.

Comments were made as to Yang's India trip closely following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's latest New Delhi visit. However, Chinese observers believe there was no connection between the two.

Lou said, "Yang's trip to India was a scheduled agenda that had nothing to do with Abe's India trip, though Abe has been attempting to lobby India to join the so-called 'Asian arc of freedom and prosperity.'"

"The Asian arc of freedom and prosperity," a concept coined by Abe, is presumably intended to act as a counterweight to China.

Lou said, "India firmly pursues a non-alignment policy. It is unlikely for it to follow Japan to implement any policy of containment against China."

Email us at: yulintao@bjreview.com

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