An Asian Century: India and China partners, not rivals

ansari-xiPartnership, not rivalry, is the way forward in India-China relations. In an overarching speech, India’s Vice-President Hamid Ansari has envisaged a cooperative  relationship between the two Asian giants and underscored that there is enough space for India and China to grow and co-create an Asian century and a democratic world order.

“Our primary interest is to pay attention to the task of development. For it to succeed, both countries need a peaceful periphery and an environment of tranquillity. And thus it has been the objective of both our countries to seek tranquillity and stability in our immediate neighbourhood and extended region. Only then can we bring prosperity and stability to Asia and the world,” the vice-president said at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing on June 30.

Stating that India and China share global responsibilities, he urged that there is need to move beyond just bilateral issues.  “We both view each other as partners for mutual benefit and not as rivals or competitors. It has been customary to focus on bilateral issues although both our nations face similar global challenges today. The inter-dependence for dealing with these issues will only grow,” Mr. Ansari said.

Pitching for democratisation of the global governance architecture, Ansari spoke India’s expressed aspiration for a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council –- of which China is a permanent member –- stating that the UN body needs to be expanded as it “no longer reflects reality“. China has supported a bigger role for India on the global stage, but has yet to declare its support for New Delhi’s bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

As Asia emerges as the global center of the world economy, India and China will have to play an important role, he said. “We are also seeing the gravity of world economy shifting towards Asia. Could the 21st century be an Asian Century? For that to happen, India and China will have to play a decisive role and create a world based on good-neighbourliness and mutual prosperity rather than one based on the balance of power calculations and animosity,” Mr. Ansari said.

Referring to the controversial “polluter pays” principle of climate change, Ansari said that the two countries have maintained that burden sharing has to be fair and must take into account historical emissions. India and China have pledged to work together in international climate change negotiations ahead of the Copenhagen climate change talks in 2009. Both argue that limiting their emissions would hamper their economic growth.

Recalling history, Mr Ansari stated that India and China have had mixed relations. The border clash of 1962, he said, left a scar on the Indian psyche and led to a brief hiatus in the growth of ties.  Yet, India and China have gradually moved away from the scars of history and looked for ways to expand their field of cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, culture and people-people exchanges. Bilateral trade has surpassed $65 billion, with the two Asian giants trying hard to meet the target of $100 billion  by 2015.

The vice-president June 30 wrapped up a five-day visit to China where he represented India in the 60th anniversary of Panchsheel, the five principles of peaceful coexistence propounded by the two countries along with Myanmar in 1954, and held talks with the top Chinese leadership.



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