India and China: Setting an Agenda for Cooperation
The IPCS hosted a delegation from the China Reform Forum (CRF) at the Pataudi Palace, 10-11 March 2007 as part of a follow-up meeting to the deliberations between the IPCS and CRF in November 2006 at Beijing. The Chinese delegation was led by Ambassador Zhou Gang, Councilor, China Reform Forum and former Chinese ambassador to India and Pakistan.
The two sides discussed several issues of bilateral, regional and international interest during the conference. In Session I on Regionalism in Asia: Towards Greater Sino- Indian Cooperation, Prof. Madhu Bhalla of Delhi University noted that Indian policy vis-?-vis regionalism had for much of the period post-Independence been somewhat conservative. Following the demise of Bandung and the slow decline of NAM, India had only been involved in two regional associations: the Commonwealth Association and SAARC. However, since the end of the Cold War it was increasingly apparent that regions had an increasingly important role to play in enabling national objectives. She compared the Chinese presence in SAARC and the Indian presence in the SCO and concluded by asking among other things to what extent the two countries could build a consensus for regionalism and what Asian identity meant to either nation. Mr. Rong Ying of the China Institute of International Studies stated that the three major agreements signed between the two countries in recent years in 2003, 2005 and 2006 demonstrated a greater political will for change on both sides. China had noted the shift in India's thinking on Chinese membership in SAARC and in Indian policy towards its smaller neighbours. There was however, scope for greater bilateral economic cooperation and a need for establishment of a FTA between the two countries.
The second session on Economics and Trade saw a presentation by the Chinese side on the various avenues for cooperation in the energy sector. Prof. Wu Zhonghu of the China Institute of Energy Studies said India and China had a major role in strengthening Asian regional energy cooperation. He outlined a number of ways of cooperation including joint exploration and development of clean technology, maintaining that the two countries had to learn from and consult each other to better deal with coming energy problems such as shortage and high prices. Prof. Aditya Bhattacharjea, from the Delhi School of Economics looked at some of the sensitive issues involved in the Sino-Indian economic relationship. Dumping was one such issue and it was noted that a sizeable number of Indian anti-dumping petitions were against Chinese imports. China's requests for "market economy status" and a bilateral China-India FTA were not feasible either in the immediate term nor did these solve the existing problems in the trade relationship. However, Prof. Bhattacharjea felt that a regional FTA involving other Asian countries would be less problematic as it provided less scope for trade diversion and less complicated rules of origin
In the third and final session on Multilateral and International Issues, Dr Alka Acharya from Jawaharlal Nehru University looked at bilateral relations within the context of trilateral cooperation between India, China and Russia, and the main drivers in this relationship. Improvement in bilateral ties contributed positively to the trilateral dynamics and it was evident that three countries planned to steer clear of any geo-strategic or power-politics aspects likely to complicate their respective relationships with the United States. Together, they could in fact play a role in reshaping the post-Cold War world order and international relations as well as temper some of the negative consequences of globalisation. Col. Dr. Wang Guifang, of the China Academy of Military Sciences in her presentation also focused on the trilateral relationship noting that as emerging big powers, all three wanted stable and peaceful neighbourhoods and had a common understanding in various regional and international institutions. However, the potential for greater economic cooperation between the three remained unfulfilled. On border issues, it was noted that the Sino-Russian border dispute had been successfully resolved and hoped that consultations between India and China would lead to a resolution in the future.
In their concluding remarks, Gen. Dipankar Banerjee, Director, IPCS and Ambassador Zhou Gang were positive in their assessments of the future of bilateral ties. Gen. Banerjee stressed that the two countries needed to get together on reworking international structures, while Ambassador Zhou noted that the varied and important issues discussed during the conference reflected the greater role the two countries had to play in maintaining world peace and regional stability.
1. Amb. Zhou Gang, Councilor, China Reform Forum
2. Prof. Wu Zhonghu, China Institute of Energy Studies
3. Prof. Liu Jianfei, Institute for International Strategic Studies, Central Party School
4. Mr. Ma Jiali, Senior Researcher, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations
5. Mr. Rong Ying, Director of Strategy Division, China Institute of International Studies
6. Col. Dr. Wang Guifang, Associate Professor, Department of War Theory and Strategic Studies, Academy of Military Science
7. Ms. Gu Xin, Program Officer, China Reform Forum
1. Maj. Gen. (Retd.) Dipankar Banerjee, Director, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies
2. Mr. M V Rappai, Visiting Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies
3. Prof. Madhu Bhalla, Department of East Asian Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Delhi University
4. Prof. Aditya Bhattacharjea, Department of Economics, Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi
5. Dr. Alka Acharya, Associate Professor, Chinese Studies, Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
6. Dr. Srikanth Kondapalli, Associate Professor, Chinese Studies, Centre for East Asian Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
7. Mr. Jabin T Jacob, Research Fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies