Original Presentation: “China-India Relations: Strategic Engagement and Challenges,” Centre Asie, Institut Francais des Relations Internationales (IFRI, Paris), 12 May 2010.
Summary: It is necessary for India and China to avoid misperception and misreading of each other’s strategic intentions. But how? Both nations need to invest more in educating their citizens about each other. The number of Chinese scholars on India and South Asia is far too few for building up any meaningful and sustainable interaction with India and South Asia. Similarly, most Indians are ‘experts’/bigots as far as Pakistan is concerned but ignorant with respect to China.
The governments meanwhile, need to look problems in the eye. There can be no pussyfooting around sensitive issues. Many solutions for resolving bilateral issues have been suggested over the years and decades, and it is time that the political will was found to implement them.
It is unlikely that the Sino-Indian relationship can be a completely happy relationship even if the boundary dispute were resolved. That is not possible in the nature of big and growing powers but conflict is also not inevitable. No matter what the state of Sino-Indian bilateral relations, regional and global problems will increasingly demand solutions that can only be provided by the two countries acting together in some fashion or the other and the level of that cooperation will also determine the quality of the solutions.