Chinese premiere Wen Jiabao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met today on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit to reiterate the old adage the two countries have been towing for a while – there is “enough space” and areas for us to work together for mutual benefit, – a diplomatic way of saying since our bilateral status is quid pro quo, lets just continue as things are without rocking the boat, or in Hindi “Chalta Hai toh Chalne do”.
While the two leaders exchanged pleasantries – Singh told Wen that India was committed to developing the “best of relations” with China while the latter underlined that the two countries should work “hand-in-hand” to ensure that the 21st century belongs to Asia.
At a time when the global axis has shifted East, India-China relations are of pivotal importance. While sweet and sour relations continue to swing according to the political climate, both nations have also shown a strong likelihood to engage further with each other. While China is keen to develop trade and industry links with India, the South Asian nation is eager to establish a firm relationship with Beijing’s next gen. “We hope Xi will visit India soon. We have been planning it for a while,” an Indian official told the Hindustan Times, referring to Xi Jinping, who is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as the country’s president next year.
Of late, India China relations have blossomed after a long thawing period, however border issues remain a thorn in both relationships. China recently raised its ante when Indian state oil and gas corporation ONGC together with the Vietnamese government began exploring for oil and gas in the South China Sea, a space it considers national territory. More recently too, American troops stationed in Australia are a major cause for concern in Beijing as it threatens China’s growing might in the region. China on its part has been silently and stealthily growing its territorial enclave to cover the paracel and spratly islands which today are claimed by Vietnam but are already displayed on several government maps in China as under Chinese territory.
Nonetheless, trade ties between the two countries couldn’t have been better. Delegations from both sides frequently visit to exchange technology, know-how and expertise in fields such as healthcare, agriculture, auto components and technology. People to people dialogues are increasing and more Indians are learning Mandarin, while there is a growing interest in visitors crossing the border to buddhist religious sites. As people from both nations propel the governments to see eye to eye, relationships will improve, the trade deficit will narrow with increased information exchange and hindi-chini will be bhai bhai once more!