Natural partners build rapport
Updated: 2014-09-19 07:13
The Chinese president began his state visit in a place other than New Delhi.
The Indian prime minister received a visiting head of state somewhere other than the capital of India.
The two leaders witnessed agreements between their countries being inked outside the city.
India's helmsman personally showed the Chinese leader around his home state on his 64th birthday.
The banquet was a fancy Gujarati-style vegetarian dinner.
"Departure from protocol" has been the catchphrase in the media descriptions of the warm welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unrolled for visiting Xi Jinping.
And the Chinese audience at home delighted in the images of the leaders of the world's two most populous nations sitting shoulder to shoulder on a swing, and the two tying their hands at the Charkha at Sabarmati Ashram.
A series of major papers on bilateral cooperation have been signed. Given the strong business presence in Xi's entourage, and Modi's proud credentials as enabler of the "Gujarat miracle", more are sure to come, both before and after the end of Xi's brief visit.
As the world's two largest developing countries, China and India share a strong common interest in upgrading their national economies. The complementary economic structures of the two giant neighbors have inspired many in China to dub the two as "natural partners for cooperation". Compared with the enormous potential, the present volume of China-India trade, even after the "blowout growth" in recent years, is a mere tip of iceberg.
The similar rags-to-riches stories of China's Guangdong province and India's Gujarat, known as "India's Guangdong", are a reminder that the two countries have ready lessons for each other in pursuing their prosperity dreams. But Xi's visit goes far beyond business pragmatism. The personal rapport Xi and Modi displayed together may end up outweighing all business deals.
Despite their similar past experiences, attitudes to global affairs, development goals and practical needs, the two neighbors have grudged reaching out to each other thanks to lingering mistrust. But as Xi pointed out candor and sincerity build up trust and lead to close cooperation.
Their agreement to bring the border issues, a historical burden, under control and to search for an early solution via talks will help build that mutual trust. And their strategic insights in global arena correlate one another.
The bonhomie the leaders have displayed is an inspiring sign that the shadow of the past will not be a hurdle in the way of better bilateral ties.
If China-India relations are not yet what Modi once portrayed as "two bodies, but one spirit", they are clearly closer to what they should be.