Monday, April 11, 2005

India and China in "Strategic Partnership"

Relations appear to be improving between India and China, as reported by the Associated Press. Link.
India and China, the world’s two most populous countries, agreed on Monday to create a “strategic partnership” in an effort to end their longstanding border dispute and boost trade and economic cooperation.

The agreement signaled a significant shift in relations between the two Asian giants after decades of mutual distrust and suspicion. (...)

The statement announcing the partnership was signed by both premiers and said the agreement would promote diplomatic relations, economic ties and contribute to the two nations “jointly addressing global challenges and threats.” (...)

The two countries also signed a raft of agreements for cooperation in such diverse areas as civil aviation, finance, education, science and technology, tourism and cultural exchanges.

“This is an important visit. We are working to promote friendly ties of cooperation between our two countries,” Wen told reporters earlier Monday.

The two countries outlined a set of broad parameters to demarcate their disputed boundary through a “fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution, through equal and friendly consultations,” the joint statement said.

India and China share a mountainous, 2,500-mile border, parts of which are not demarcated. The two sides went to war over the disagreement in 1962.

Meanwhile, both sides have in recent years forged closer economic ties, hoping improved trade relations will also help expedite the resolution of political differences.

Some may be troubled by news such as this, but I tend to view the glass here as half full, rather than half empty. Both countries have large populations and rapidly growing economies. It was fairly recently that both of them moved from xenophobia to world trade, and their people are benefiting. Politically, one is a democracy, while the other has moved from totalitarianism to authoritarianism, a definite improvement.

India had fought wars with two of its neighbors in the past, China and Pakistan.. Now, it is in friendly diplomatic contacts with both of them. This looks like a very good sign, especially since all three of those countries have nuclear weapons. China does have the potential to develop into a serious threat to the US and it should be watched, but actions like this, seeking good relations with its neighbors rather than hegemony strikes me as hopeful.


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