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Dec 20 2016
China-India towards a New Model of Major Country Relations
By Yang Jiemian

The Speech of Prof. Jiemian YANG, Chairman of the Council of Academic Affairs,Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS), China at the “India-China Think-Tank Forum: Towards a Closer India-China Developmental Partnership” co-organized by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, (India) Institute of Chinese Studies, Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) and China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), Sapru House, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi, December 9, 2016.

Both China and India are two great countries and their peaceful rising is one of the most significant events in the 21st Century. On the eve of the CPC 18th Congress in 2012, China initiated the concept of New Model of Major Country Relations (NMMCR), which has since been one of the pillars of China’s foreign policy. It is perfectly fitting to discuss this important topic at this important India-China Think-Tanks Forum.

At this important Forum I would like to share my humble views on the concept and practice of China’s major country relations. When the Chinese government speaks about major countries, it means the traditional powers, BRICS nations and the regional major players. China looks at India as an important fellow major country in the world today. Furthermore, India fits into all the four components of China’s diplomatic layouts. The Chinese hold that its relations with major countries play a key role, that its relations with the neighbors are of primary importance, that its relations with other developing countries serve as the foundation, and that the multilateral relations are important platforms. I am repeating that India fits into all of the four.

As regards the China-India Major Country Relations, we should discuss about their foundation. First of all, the rejuvenating of the two great nations serves the solid foundation. China and India are now enjoying continuous economic growth, marked social improvements, innovative sciences and technologies, and dynamic political progresses. Millions upon millions of Chinese and Indians have realized their dreams for better and quality lives and still more in greater numbers are on their way to translate the dreams into realities. These great achievements have upgraded China and India into a category of major countries with global recognition.

Second, China and India as major countries are contributing enormous positive energies to Asia and the world. As China’s former leader Deng Xiaoping said to the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on December 21, 1988, only when the China-India relationship develops, will a real "Asian century" emerge. The former Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru also said that when China and India join hands, Asia and even the world will take note. Now, these predictions are becoming the realities. China and India work together at the United Nations, G20, BRICS, APEC and SCO. Indeed, the cooperation list of these kinds becomes longer and longer.

Third, China and India is not only significant for the present world but also the future world. Looking around the world beset by sluggish economy and turbulent societies, Asia shines for its economic achievements and political stability by and large. Here China and India have played indispensable roles in maintaining and promoting Asia’s peace, stability and progresses. Moreover, the rise of China and India is also changing the global configuration of powers in favor of the non-Western world, enhancing their voices in reallocating rights and interests in international system and order, and shaping the global governance in the fairer and more rational direction. For the first time since the Age of Discovery in the 15th Century, China, India and some other developing countries are playing the greater roles in agenda-setting, rule-making and institution-building than ever before.

Last but not least, the rise of China and India is not only materially important but also culturally significant. The Chinese culture and Indian culture are two pearls glittering in the world’s treasures of civilizations. The Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence advocated by China, India and Burma some sixty years ago is still a solid pillar of international norms. The new approaches of emerging power cooperation promoted by China and India have enhanced the status and impacts of the BRICS. China’s Taichi and India’s Yugo spreads not only the ways of physical health but also the life philosophy of the two countries.

Having said so, we must fully recognize that the present world is also full of challenges. Being two major countries, China and India shoulder special responsibilities to play greater and more constructive roles in promoting world’s peace, development and win-win cooperation. In order to enhance the China-India strategic partnership, I would like to present the following three recommendations:

The first is to define the goals of the NMMCR between China and India. In order to do so, China and India should think and behave accordingly. China and India established strategic partnership in 2005. The NMMCR should be further steps to deepen and broaden this strategic partnership so as to match their new status and responsibilities. Therefore, the NMMCR should set clear and feasible principles. The two countries might agree to enhance strategic trust, elevate economic cooperation, coordinate international affairs and meet the global challenges. While the two countries should and would continue to work on their bilateral relations, China and India should enhance their awareness of possessing global and regional implications. Therefore, the two countries should exert more efforts in defining the future orientation of Asia and the world. Both should talk about and work at world trends and the matching thoughts and concepts. For instance, China and India need consult more on building up towards the Community of Shared Mankind’s Future. Another instance is China and India could jointly explore the Asian security architectures. With great senses of visions and missions, both China and India could have the helicopter views that will transcend the immediate and narrow-minded confinements.

My second recommendation is that the two countries should adopt major country approaches towards the differences and disputes. As two giant neighbors each other, China and India would unavoidably have differences and problems. However, sometimes new approaches can give new perspectives or even new solutions. Indeed, if we focus on the differences only, these differences would become more difficult and complicated. But if we put our commonalities against broader and deeper backgrounds, the commonalities would become greater. The two countries should move out of such traditional ideas and concepts as security dilemma and zero sum games. As Prime Minister Modi said to President Xi at BRICS Summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, in July 2014, "China and India are two bodies with one spirit." So long as the two countries are of one spirit for peace and development, China and India would find the new ideas and ways to deal with the existing and potential problems. Moreover, China and India could use their newly acquired material strength and civilization resonances to effectively deal with the major problems. China and India should never ignore the problems and issues in the China-India relations. On the contrary, we should adopt active and pragmatic attitudes in understanding and dealing with the problems and issues. As regards the foreign policy and international relations, there are mainly three issues in the way: the bilateral boundary question, the trilateral questions of China, India with the United States or Pakistan, and the multilateral one of India’s status at the UNSC. We must have both of the sense of urgency and patience. As those urgent issues such as border stability and crisis prevention, the two countries should try their best to control the differences and manage the crises. As those related to sovereignty and territorial issues, they should show sufficient patience and sometimes let the issues settle themselves in their own course of developments.

My third recommendation is about China-India Think-Tank cooperation. With the inauguration of this Forum, the think tank cooperation is entering into a new stage. Among other things, China and India think tanks should do the following three things:

(1) The two champions should give greater attention to the overall thinking and top-level planning of the think tank cooperation. This forum should set up steering committee or eminent person’s panel and coordinate its schedule with the major events of the two countries. They might start with the G20, BRICS, APEC, AIIB and NDB. China-India chorals will definitely raise the Asian voices and recognitions in the world.

(2) China and India think tanks should carry out more bilateral and multilateral joint projects on the subjects of their mutual concerns ranging from regional architecture to rights and powers of discourses. Both sides should take the joint projects as opportunities to compare their notes, deepen their mutual understanding and conduct consultations before, in and after the major events. Their joint research subjects could also include their domestic concerns such as development models and environment protection.

(3) China and India think tanks should broaden their spheres of works. Internally, they should have more domestic interaction among the circles of foreign affairs, economies, finances, cultures and civil societies. Externally, they should strengthen networking between them and the others of the world. Besides, China and India think tanks should play a greater role in shaping and leading public opinion. As the missions of the Institute of China Studies, Delhi put it: “Lead public discourse with regard to India-China relations”. On the one hand, the think tanks should persist in the solid and profound studies to live up to their professional missions. On the other hand, they should also interact with the broad masses at a time of globalization and information society. After all, to find a proper way between the solid studies and mass discussions might be the new mission of the think tanks.

In conclusion, China and India are now standing on a new point of departure. They are shouldering a multi-fold of historical missions to further bilateral relations, regional cooperation and global governance. On the basis of these visions and missions, China and India should work out the timely concepts, appropriate strategies, policy plans. Here the Chinese and Indian think tanks should and could play a significant and constructive role by more meetings of intellectual minds and joint researches. Moreover, China and India will work together with other countries in Asia and the world for the new international relations based on win-win cooperation.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.

Source of documents:SIIS