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"Lack of shared interests plaguing Sino-India ties"

world Updated: Oct 04, 2013 00:48 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Bilateral relation between India and China is unlikely to see a dramatic improvement in the coming years but enlarging the bouquet of shared interests will prevent it from spiraling down, a leading Chinese foreign policy expert and academic has said.

There is a lack of mutual trust between India and China as the two countries have little shared interests, Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University, told HT in an interview.

“Mutual trust is the result of cooperation. It is not a precondition for cooperation. Cooperation will bring about mutual trust…it is a result of cooperation,” Yan said.

“Both sides know there are problems. So, we cannot expect the relationship to improve dramatically. Happy to see the relationship grow, improve slowly. That’s good enough… as long as it doesn’t spiral down. Both sides will be happy to see that,” Yan said.

He added it is natural that India wants to maintain its dominant position in South Asia and is worried and suspicious about China’s entry into the region.

One way to lower bilateral misgivings and increase the trust factor was economic integration, Yan said, adding that it will enlarge shared interests between the two countries.

Giving the example of Beijing’s free trade pact with Asean countries, Yan said China and India should take the lead to look at a similar agreement in South Asia.

“China and India need this. Not only bilateral but multilateral trade will be better for South Asia,” he said.

The issue of the disputed border should not hold bilateral relations at ransom, he said, adding that the current mechanism in place to resolve the issue seemed to be working well.

“The mechanism to negotiate and manage unexpected events is doing pretty well,” Yan said, adding that gradually upgrading the mechanism would work well in resolving the dispute.

But it’s best if the countries did not have high expectations.

“…Because if you have high political expectation (both will)….blame each other and point finger at each other. Low level of political expectation is positive for China and India relations,” Yan said.

China needs India’s friendship and expects that New Delhi will maintain a neutral stand in disputes involving the former, Yan said.

“China expects India to take a neutral stand in conflicts between China and Japan. If India continues to have a neutral stance on Japan, China will be happy,” Yan said.

In his new book, the Inertia of History, Yan has forecast that with China’s rapid rise in the next 10 years, the world will again become a world of two superpowers – the US and China.

“India’s foreign policy is likely to become more non-aligned in the bipolar world. That would be the best policy for secondary powers,” Yan said.