China and India: Cooperation and Competition – Gareth Price

From Chatham House website:

In April 2005, during the visit of the Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, to Delhi, China and India announced a strategic partnership, and the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, announced that they could `together reshape the world order‘. India’s Foreign Secretary, Shyam Saran, added that India and China `do not look upon each other as adversaries but we look upon each other as partners’. The following year, 2006, was designated China¬≠India Friendship Year and witnessed a state visit by President Hu Jintao, the first for ten years. These developments highlight the extent to which Sino-Indian relations have improved over the past decade, driven by increasing economic interaction.

Modern-day China and India have undoubtedly been shaped by their pasts, both of which are rooted in widely differing colonial experiences. For India, British rule resulted in Western-style democratic institutions. Never subject to outright colonization, China, however, entered into a dependent trade relationship with European powers without political assimilation. This has left a legacy under which one is now the world’s largest , with rule of law and a well-developed bureaucratic structure, but immense problems of poverty and development, and the other is the world’s largest remaining one-party state, with an ideology-free leadership and a vulnerable legal system. And this is complicated by the expectation that both are now bidding for regional and global superpower status, with the competition that implies. [Full Text]

Dr Gareth Price is head of the Asia Programme at Chatham House. Read also The Dragon and the Elephant: Chinese-Indian Relations in the 21st Century by Jing-dong Yuan, director of the Nonproliferation Education Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies:

Despite unresolved territorial disputes, mutual suspicions over each other’s military buildup and strategic intent, potential economic competition, and the changing balance of power and realignments, China and India have enjoyed 10 years of mostly uninterrupted progress in their political, economic, and security relationship. President Hu Jintao’s November 2006 visit to India, the first such visit by a Chinese head of state in a decade, marked an important milestone in the bilateral relationship. During Hu’s visit, the two governments issued a joint statement highlighting a 10-point strategy to elevate the relationship and signed more than a dozen agreements to strengthen cooperation in trade, investment, energy, and cultural and educational exchanges.

Hu’s visit to India injected optimism and high expectations for Chinese-Indian relations, but the challenges ahead remain daunting. They include unresolved territorial disputes, mutual suspicions of each other’s intentions, and power realignments at the global and regional levels. The substance and consolidation of the bilateral relationship will depend on how the world’s most populous and fastest-growing states manage these challenges as they continue their ascent to great-power status. Moreover, as the world becomes increasingly affected by the rise of these two Asian powers’ phenomenal economic growth and political influence, how Beijing and New Delhi handle their bilateral relationship will be critical for regional and global peace and prosperity in the coming years. [Full Text]

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