Published as 郑嘉宾, ‘中印面临一个历史性机遇’, 环球网, 19 September 2014.
新丝绸之路也包括中巴经济走廊和孟中印缅经济带，鉴于巴基斯坦目前的经济情况，如果能同印度这个更大、更成熟的市场联在一起，中巴经济走廊成功的机会将更高。这对中国在新疆西部大开发战略及印巴边疆邦发展计划也有利。对于印度的北方邦 和比哈尔邦， 经过西藏进入尼泊尔的丝绸之路也可以受益。孟中印缅经济带连接中国西南与云南处于领先地位，但广西和四川到印度的东部地区也有潜在可能。
Original Chinese Version:
(translated from English by Debasish Chaudhuri, my colleague at the ICS)
再说,新丝绸之路也包括中巴经济走廊和孟中印缅经济带。鉴于巴基斯坦的经济状态不佳，如果能同印度的更大、更成熟的市场联在一起，中巴经济走廊成功的机会会提高。这对中国在新疆西部大开发战略及印度在沿着巴基斯坦边境的 Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, 和Gujarat邦计划开发也有利。对于印度的Uttar Pradesh邦和Bihar邦，经过西藏进入尼泊尔的丝绸之路也可以受益。孟中印缅经济带连接中国西南与云南处于领先地位，但广西和四川到印度的东部地区也有潜在。
此外， 印中两国人民接触以及印度和中国之间的军事对军事交流，两国关系迅速发展以及 远远超过其他任何国家，这是印度的领导和专家学者给予高度重视。他们认为，中印两个政府关系和普通市民之间的好感和信心是必要的。希望莫迪和习近平抓好这个机遇。
Original English Version
India and China are today seen as crucial to global economic growth as well as essential to the reform of a West-centric international political order. Economic growth has a momentum of its own and this is evident in the rapid growth of Sino-Indian economic ties despite their difficult political relations. Even the massive Indian trade deficit that currently troubles the relationship will be resolved or brought to manageable levels because of a simple economic logic – China has huge capital that needs to be invested outside the country in order to prevent overheating of the Chinese economy and without doubt, India is the best place for such investment given the scale of its economy. Certainly, investments in India promise to greater returns than investing in US or European treasury bonds or indeed in any other part of the world.
But what of the outstanding political issues between India and China? The boundary dispute is often referred to as a problem ‘leftover’ from history that can be set aside for the moment or should not be allowed to impede progress in other parts of the relationship. But there are also more positive references to history such as the civilizational ties between India and China as seen in the cooperation on the Nalanda University and the creation of a Buddhist circuit in India and Nepal that Chinese tourists can also be part of. The question then is can we choose to selectively ignore or forget history? This cannot be for it will create contradictions in Sino-Indian relations.
Further, as Asia’s two largest powers, India and China are also expected to achieve a greater, more commensurate role on the global stage both for themselves and the Third World, in general. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are both perceived as decisive leaders who have received a strong mandate from their respective peoples to carry out anti-corruption and development domestically as well as these external goals. However, both their domestic and external objectives will be difficult to achieve if India and China cannot resolve issues in their bilateral ties with maturity and vision. It must therefore, be self-evident to the two leaders that they have before them a historic opportunity to resolve questions of history by political will.
There are still further opportunities for making history in the Sino-Indian relationship. President Xi announced his government’s new Silk Roads policy late last year. The ancient Silk Roads were as much Indian as they were Chinese having carried Indian products, ideas and influence, as well, including Buddhism to China and there is an opportunity for both countries to redevelop past linkages for the modern era. The new Silk Roads – the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road – will also rely heavily on India for their success. For instance, India’s goodwill in Central Asia and Afghanistan and its participation will be absolutely helpful for the Silk Road Economic Belt to find greater welcome in the region. The Maritime Silk Road meanwhile, will extensively link with Indian ports for economic reasons and rely on India’s ability to maintain order and safety of sea lines of communication in the Indian Ocean.
Similarly, two other Silk Roads include the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and the BCIM Economic Corridor. Given the poor state of the Pakistani economy, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor improves its chances of success if it can link up with the larger, more mature market economy of India. This also helps along China’s Western Development Strategy in Xinjiang province as well as India’s plans to develop its own border provinces with Pakistan of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan and Gujarat. For India, the extension of the Silk Roads through Tibet and into Nepal could also benefit its provinces of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The BCIM Economic Corridor, meanwhile, links China’s southwest with Yunnan in the lead but also potentially Guangxi and Sichuan to India’s eastern regions. Again, all of these proposed economic corridors and routes that offer the potential of economic development for both India’s and China’s smaller neighbours and their underdeveloped border regions have historical precedents. To the Chinese new leadership, however, must go the credit for reimagining its relations with its neighbours in such historically-referenced and innovative ways.
As two rising powers with increasing regional and global responsibilities, India and China will have to work closely together. It is inevitable that their economic relations and political ties will grow still further. In this context, it is necessary to address a concern evident in Chinese writings and media about India’s growing ties with the United States, Japan and Vietnam, all countries with which China has difficult relations. India will most certainly increase and improve its political, economic and military relations with these countries – after all China also has excellent economic relations with these countries and is also trying to improve military relations as evident in the RIMPAC exercises. Moreover, India is focused on improving its ties not with just with these countries but also with others, including China. The old stage where India used to get worried about China ties with India’s neighbours is fast disappearing as India understands that China’s economic growth can be a positive transformation factor for these countries as well.
Indian leaders and scholars give great importance to the rapid enhancement of people-to-people contacts and military-to-military exchanges between India and China, as well – more so than with any other country. This they see as necessary to create goodwill and confidence in the Sino-Indian relationship both among the governments and among ordinary citizens.
Meetings between India and China should also take place at all levels – senior, middle, and junior. Indeed, those between the middle and junior levels of civilian and military officials as well as between young students and scholars and intellectuals, are perhaps the most crucial to laying the foundation of better understanding between the two countries for the future. As first leaders of their countries born after Indian Independence and Chinese Liberation, Prime Minister Modi and President Xi should understand how important it is to involve young people more in bilateral exchanges. Further, the Modi-Xi meeting will also be an occasion also to remember that interactions between the two countries should take place not just at the national level but at the level of provincial leaders and officials in the two countries. Both leaders were successful provincial leaders before they became national leaders and this background offers both a direction and trend for the future.
India and China have to take care of the development aspirations of their people as well as achieve growth in a sustainable, environment-friendly manner. They also have the responsibility to help other Third World countries to achieve development and political stability both through bilateral cooperation and by pushing reform of global multilateral institutions. They have, thus, the opportunity to craft a new kind of relationship between great powers that is very different from the Western-dominated post-World War II model of great power ties. Modi and Xi must together summon the vision and statesmanship needed to grab the opportunity.
The two giant heads of giant nations meet and bring with them the hope of greater development and harmony in this part of the world. It is also the beginning of proactive collaboration in South Asia, which has till now remained disjointed.