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中国前驻印度缅甸大使程瑞声在"中印关系的展望"座谈会上的发言
发布时间:2013年01月21日  来源:察哈尔学会  作者:新闻与公共事务部  阅读:1120

  ON THE FUTURE OF CHINA-INDIA STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP

  Cheng Ruisheng

  In recent years, China-India relations have witnessed a very peculiar trend. On the one hand, bilateral relations between the two countries have developed very fast, while on the other hand negative news and developments have emerged quite often.

  On the positive side, people are happy to see that leaders of both countries have made frequent exchange of goodwill visits and held meetings often in third countries. Trade and economic cooperation and friendly exchanges between the two countries have developed rapidly. Both countries have also had good and effective cooperation in international and regional organizations. All these have shown that the strategic and cooperative partnership established between the two countries have been promoted step by step through the joint efforts of both sides.

  However, the negative side of China-India relations should not be neglected. “China threat” theory has been on rise again in India in recent years.

  It is quite clear that inadequacy of mutual trust between the two countries has still been a quite outstanding problem. Unless this question is resolved, the strategic partnership between the two countries can not be consolidated.

  Reasons for Distrust

  There are a number of factors leading to the inadequacy of mutual trust between China and India. Some are the questions left over from the history while some are related to real politics.

  The first and most important one is that no major breakthrough has been achieved on the China-India boundary question, despite of the fact that a number of rounds of talks have already been held by the Special Representatives of the two governments. During Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December 2010, he pointed out in his speech at the World Affairs Council, “The China-India boundary question is a historical legacy. It will not be easy to completely resolve this question. It requires patience and will take a fairly long period of time. Only with sincerity, mutual trust and perseverance can we eventually find a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution.” Since the difficulty for finding a final settlement of the boundary question seems insurmountable at present, the Indian side has its worry that military conflict and confrontation might occur again in China-India border areas. In this respect, the shadow of the 1962 border conflict between the two countries still has its impact in India. Thus India has taken a number of measures to strengthen its military preparedness in the China-India border regions.

  Activities of some Tibetans against their motherland in India have increased. Dalai Lama’s visit to Tawang in November 2009 and his remarks that Tawang was a part of India have made the situation more complicated.

  Related to the China-India boundary question is the fact that the economic gap between China and India has been widening in recent years, since the rate of growth of China has been higher than that of India. Especially the military strength of China has also been further developed in recent years, leading to India’s apprehension that it may not be able to cope with the situation if a military conflict occurs between the two countries.

  Another factor is the influence of geopolitics. Along with the development of China-India relations, the impact of geopolitical factors on China-India relations has been reduced gradually. However, these factors still play a role to some degree. India still has some apprehension on China’s relations with India’s neighbors especially Pakistan, while China has also its concern on India’s military and security cooperation with countries like the United States and Japan.

  The above factors are interwoven together instead of being isolated with each other, leading to a rather complicated situation and considerable difficulty in solving them.

  Ways and Means to Enhance Mutual Trust

  Due to the above factors, some negative news and developments occur quite often. However, it is encouraging to note that both China and India are determined to prevent the emergence of confrontation and make new and greater efforts to further develop the strategic partnership between them. Especially as far as China is concerned, China has adopted an attitude of understanding on India’s apprehension about China and has tried hard to remove step by step this apprehension with its own initiative. This has won positive response from India already.

  It has been noticed that during his visit to India in January 2012, China’s State Councillor Dai Bingguo said that there did not exist such a thing as China’s attempt to “attack India” or “suppress India’s development”. Later when Chinese President Hu Jintao met with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi during the fourth BRICS summit in March 2012, the latter said that India had no intention to contain China and would not take part in any scheme aimed at containing China. The above statements by both sides are indeed very importment for enhancing their mutual trust.

  In light of the course of China-India relations and based on historical experiences of China’s relations with other countries, greater efforts by both sides in the following fields will play an important role in the enhancement of mutual trust.

  Judging from the situation in recent years, mutual visits and meetings in third countries between leaders of China and India could play an especially vital role in promoting the mutual trust between the two countries. Leaders at the highest level of both countries have cherished very much these opportunities of personal contacts and conducted in-depth exchange of views, from a strategic altitude, on ways and means to further develop relations between the two countries, offering some new thoughts and proposals and publishing some very important documents which have much significance in guiding the relations between the two countries, so that greater impetus has been given to the development of relations between the two countries. These mutual visits and meetings have also shown outstanding effects in dispelling the dark clouds which might appear sometimes in the sky of China-India friendship and promoting the confidence of both peoples in the future of their friendly relations. It is noted that during Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December 2010, both sides agreed to launch the mechanism of regular mutual visits by heads of state and government. Therefore in the future, more mutual visits at the summit level can be expected.

  The final settlement of China-India boundary question will be the most important key to greatly enhancing mutual trust between the two countries. Despite of the difficulties to achieve the final settlement at present, both sides are determined to continue their efforts to actively seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution at an early date from the political and strategic perspective. This determination was reiterated during meetings between leaders of both countries in recent years. Pending the resolution of the boundary question, both sides have agreed to work together to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas and set up a working mechanism for consultation and coordination on border affairs.

  Further development of trade and economic cooperation between the two countries could enlarge their common interest and further strengthen the foundation of their relationship.

  Friendly exchanges between armed forces of the two countries will be very conducive to enhancing mutual trust between the two countries. Especially it is important to hold the annual defense dialogue between the two sides regularly as agreed upon by them. Through the defense dialogue, both sides can have full exchange of views on those questions relating to military strategies which either side feels concerned, for instance, whether China is implementing a “String of Pearl” strategy.

  On the question of nuclear arms control and disarmament, both China and India hold a number of identical stands. The Joint Communique of China and India issued during Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December 2010 reiterated that “both sides expressed their commitment to promoting the multilateral arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation processes”, “they supported the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of all nuclear weapons, and called on the international community to move forward together to achieve the goal of global nuclear disarmament” and both sides “reaffirmed their firm opposition to the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space”.

  On the question of India’s nuclear status, it is recalled that in 2008, China took a flexible attitude so that the resolution to lift nuclear embargo against India could be passed by the Nuclear Suppliers Group. At present, among all the nuclear weapon states, only China and India have announced no-first-use policy. With new thinking of both sides, possibility of cooperation between the two countries on this question could be explored.

  The cooperation between China and India in the field of nuclear energy will be very conducive to enhancing mutual trust between the two countries. It is recalled that in the 1980s, China once supplied heavy water to India and in the 1990s, when I was ambassador to India, China supplied low-enriched uranium to India. These two contracts played a helpful role in the restoration and development of friendly relations between the two countries.

  In the new century, an important development in this field was that China-India Joint Declaration issued during President Hu Jintao’s visit to India in 2006 stated that, “Considering that for both China and India, expansion of civilian nuclear energy programme is an essential and important component of their national energy plans to ensure energy security, the two sides agree to promote cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, consistent with their respective international commitments. As two countries with advanced scientific capabilities, they stress the importance of further deepening cooperation bilaterally as well as through multilateral projects such as ITER, and enhance exchanges in the related academic fields.” However, it is regrettable that due to some reasons, little progress has been achieved up to now. It seems that both sides need be more open-minded and decisive on this question. They could start with technical exchanges in those areas of mutual interest such as nuclear breeder, high temperature gas-cooled reactor, development of thorium and security of nuclear reactors.

  In order to promote mutual trust between China and India, both sides could also try to take more active steps to support each other on major questions involving core interests of the other side. There have been some good examples in the past. One was that on April 17, 2008, when the Olympic torch passed through New Delhi, the ceremony went on smoothly thanks to the resolute measures taken by the Indian government. The Chinese side expressed its appreciation for this. Another example was, as mentioned above, the flexible attitude taken by the Chinese side in the Nuclear Suppliers Group on the resolution on India. It is hoped that in the future, more and more such steps could be taken by both sides.

  In order to enhance mutual trust and reduce unwarranted misunderstanding and apprehension, both sides could, on those important questions of concern for either side, offer more information to each other and exchange views, so as to increase transparency. Since there are many dialogues between the two governments on various issues, they could be platforms for this purpose.

  As far as China’s relations with other South Asian countries are concerned, India is more concerned on some developments of China’s relations with Pakistan. In order to promote mutual understading between the three countries, trilateral dialogues could be held between China, India and Pakistan. It is noted scholars of these three countries have already held seminars on some issues. If there is a need, government officers on different levels of the three countries could also hold their dialogues on issues of interest to the three countries.

  As to the trilateral relations between China, India and the United States, since the “China factor” does exist in India-U.S. relations, the question arises how China will react. Through Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December 2010 and President Hu Jintao’s visit to the United States in January 2011, it can be seen that China’s response is to continue its independent foreign policy of peace and make its own efforts to improve relations with both India and the United States. China’s own good relations with both India and the United States will be the best choice for China to deal with the situation. It is also advisable that trilateral dialogues could be held between China, India and the United States.

  Therefore, there will be little possibility that new confrontation would emerge between an united front of China and Pakistan on the one hand and an united front of India and the United States on the other. On the contrary, if the United States would fall out with Pakistan and launch a large-scale war against Pakistan, India might be the first to resist, since its fundamental interests would be in danger. Of course, people hope that this will never happen.

  People to people exchanges between China and India need be further increased and strengthened. Especially more exchanges between the media of the two countries should be promoted. It is hoped that more positive reports could appear in the media of both countries.

  Confidence in the Future

  In general, China-India relations have become mature gradually, after passing through a tortuous course in the past. This is very precious. In the future, with the continuous development of friendly relations between the two countries, it can be expected that those unstable factors in their relations would be further removed so that mutual trust between the two countries would be steadily enhanced. It is believed that people could take a quite optimistic view on the future prospect of China-India relations.

  (January 2013)

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