News / Asia

Experts: China-India Relationship Will Need More Than Economic Bliss

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, In this photograph received from the Press Information Bureau (PIB) and taken on July 14, 2014,
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil, In this photograph received from the Press Information Bureau (PIB) and taken on July 14, 2014,

The recent meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Fortaleza, Brazil pointed to promising signs in bilateral relations. 

The two countries appeared ready to move beyond border issues to create positive momentum in a more important arena – economic cooperation. But analysts interviewed by VOA suggest future relations between the two neighbors will depend on more than economic bliss.

A key sign of the desire for closer ties coming out of Fortaleza was Xi’s invitation for Modi to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in China in November. While membership is voted on by the entire APEC group, Xi's invitation is seen a courting India on a global scale. Xi has already accepted an invitation from Modi to travel to India in September.

Border issue

The border issue, over which China and India fought a brief war in 1962, still erupts in occassional  border skirmishes, and is still an important issue to resolve -- especially for India. At the Fortaleza meeting, Modi said negotiating an agreement on their border differences would set an example for the world on conflict resolution. 

Xi, however, was more intent on sending another message.

“China and India are long-lasting strategic and cooperative partners, rather than rivals,” Xi said, according to Xinhua. As the two largest nations in the world, he argued China and India could have more influence combined than they currently have separately. 

“If the two countries speak in one voice, the whole world will attentively listen,” the Chinese leader was quoted.

Financial cooperation

With the United States standing as the protector of much of East Asia in China’s disputes in the South China Sea, having India as a partner would give China some balance. In terms of specifics, however, the focus remains largely on economic cooperation.

“The Chinese government [has] openly said that the China-India relationship in the 21st century would be the most vibrant, the relationship with the biggest potential,” said Haiyan Wang, managing partner of the China India Institute.

China overtook the United States to become India’s largest trading partner this year, according to a study by the PHD Chamber of Commerce, an Indian trade group in New Delhi.

“The China dream and the India dream are essentially in some way a common dream, to become richer, more prosperous,” said Wang. “[The] common pursuit of a common dream requires a peaceful coexistence and becoming a lot more pragmatic in finding ways to cooperate rather than just focus on the rivalry.”

If the issue is economics, then one obstacle frequently cited by analysts is the perception that India’s trade deficit with China is too high. 

However, Anil Gupta, professor at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, believes this isn’t the case.

“It’s not high because ultimately you cannot expect trade to be balanced with every country,” said Gupta.

India’s trade deficit with China was $31 billion in 2013, which constituted only 20 percent of India’s total trade deficit.

“If India is concerned about its trade deficit, which it must be, the problem isn’t China,” Gupta said.

While the Indian government would like to see an increase in Chinese investments, some analysts argue that that China should look toward the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), for trade and investment opportunities as opposed to the Indian market.

Forging trust

But Girija Pande, of Apex Avalon Consulting, a consulting firm that looks at business in Asia Pacific markets, believes that India’s market is more attractive because of its size compared to ASEAN markets.

“They [China] thought they would go into Vietnam or Thailand or Indonesia or many of the ASEAN countries. Now all of them are smaller markets and they are also export markets so they don’t have a home market which is large enough,” Pande said.

Wang, from the China India Institute, believes that the more fundamental issue of trust and knowledge deficit between China and India must be overcome in order for economic relations to grow.

Kerry Brown, a Professor of Chinese Politics at the University of Sydney, agrees. Writing recently in The Diplomat, Brown said the solution to better relations requires more than just increasing trade.

They often act like they don’t really understand the relevance they have for each other beyond narrow border issues, nor do they speak a common geopolitical language,” said Brown. “For two countries that pride themselves on being ancient civilizations … these days China and India look like fumbling, nervous youngsters meeting on a first date.”

The interesting question, according to Brown, is how the world is going to respond to their warming relationship – and whether it’s going to last.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NY
July 25, 2014 10:50 AM
Ever since the PRC invaded & occupied Tibet, the border with India has been tense and relations w/ China (at least since 1962) have been fraught w/ problems. China's "peaceful rise" will bring it in conflict w/ rising India (as well as other Asian neighbors). India and Tibet have never had a conflict. A free & independent Tibet will stabilize the border w/ India and improve relations between the two Asian giants.
In Response

by: Lt.Col.(Retd) JC JOSHI from: BANGALORE
July 31, 2014 12:56 AM
Thank you.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More