Sino-Indian relations offer opportunity: Ambassador

Updated: 2016-01-06 10:32

By An Baijie(

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Editor's note: Ashok K. Kantha, Indian ambassador to China, is preparing to leave China on Thursday after a successful two-year tenure. Mr. Kantha has witnessed improved communication between the leaders of China and India. The ambassador wrote an article exclusively for China Daily ahead of his farewell.

Sino-Indian relations offer opportunity: Ambassador

Ashok K. Kantha, Indian ambassador to China. [Photo/IC]

I recently had the opportunity to interact with students and faculty from Peking University, during which I recalled my first visit to that university way back in 1982. At that time, there were barely a dozen Indian students in China; today, there are some 14,000 Indians studying here. During the intensive interaction, I was struck by the high level of warmth and interest displayed towards India. For me, this was a potent symbol of the journey our two neighboring countries have traveled in the recent past and was also a strong indicator of the fundamental potential of closer engagement.

As we enter the year 2016 - and I also complete my assignment in China - it is a time to reflect on the successes of the past year. Today, the re-emergence of the two Asian giants within the same time frame is re-setting the poles of the global architecture - and simultaneously imparting immense new strategic opportunities for both sides, and indeed for Asia and the world as a whole. During his visit to India in September 2014, President Xi Jinping emphasized, "China and India have a combined population of over 2.5 billion. If we speak with one voice, the whole world will listen, and if we join hands, the whole world will pay attention". On that occasion, our leaders articulated the vision of closer developmental partnership between India and China.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to China in May 2015 took up the momentum strongly. The two visits showcased the high level of personal rapport between our leaders and coined a new term - "hometown diplomacy". Prime Minister Modi has met with President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang as many as eight times over the last eighteen months. Combined with other high-level visits in both directions, including the visits of the external affairs minister and home minister of India to China and that of NPC Chairman Zhang Dejiang, Vice-President Li Yuanchao and Vice-Chairman of Central Military Commission Fan Changlong to India, there is a clear strategic intent to diversify and deepen our engagement.

At the bilateral level, the developmental partnership translates into exciting new opportunities for businesses on both sides. New initiatives in industrial parks, railways and smart cities are making good progress. India strongly welcomes Chinese participation in our development campaigns, such as Make in India, Digital India, and Smart Cities. We are happy to note that investments from China are flowing into India.

Indian companies too can play a greater role in China's strategic initiatives such as 'Made in China 2025' and Digital China, which stress innovation and R&D. India's strengths in Information Technology and knowledge industries converge well with these aspirations. Also, India is a global lead player in pharmaceuticals and can slot into China's health strategy. With asymmetrical trade a mutual concern, such initiatives can make economic engagement more sustainable.

To broaden our partnership further, our leaders established the India-China States/Provincial Leaders' Forum during Prime Minister Modi's visit in 2015, the first such initiative that India has taken with another country. India's Ministry of External Affairs and the International Department of the CPC Central Committee entered into a unique Memorandum of Understanding to promote exchanges at the level of state and provincial leaders and leaders of the CPC. Besides, 10 pairs of sister-state/sister-city relations are already functional. Many state and provincial leaders are undertaking visits in both directions and strengthening cooperation. During my travels in China, I have always been impressed with the warmth, friendship and keen interest of local leaders towards India, and I am sure this would translate into more active cooperation on the ground.

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