Indian expert: High time for Elephant, Dragon to dance together for mutually beneficial cooperation

Both New Delhi and Beijing that given the speed at which the economies of China and India are growing, there is enough room for both to accommodate the other's growth story.

IT is imperative for the Indian elephant and the Chinese dragon to dance together to counter their short-term challenges and work on long-term potential, an Indian economist has said.

Mohammed Saqib, secretary-general of India-China Economic and Cultural Council, shared his view on economic cooperation between the two Asian giants in a recent interview with Xinhua.

His remarks came after a Chinese trade delegation visited India last week when the two sides signed 101 trade agreements with a total contract value of US$2.38 billion.

Chinese Commerce Minister Zhong Shan also visited New Delhi for the 11th meeting of China-India Joint Group on Economic Relations, Trade, Science and Technology to further enhance cooperation.

Speaking positively of these new trends, Saqib said although geo-political and geo-strategic differences have strained the two countries’ ties intermittently, “a pragmatic analysis of the India-China bilateral relationship and their shared interests in multiple sectors reveals that the real story is ‘China and India’” rather than “China against India.”

Although the two sides were locked in an antagonistic relationship over the Doklam (Dong Lang) stand-off last summer, bilateral trade reached a record high of US$84.4 billion in 2017, a sharp rise from the previous year, said Saqib.

“This is a major milestone for both countries,” he said.

The Indian economist noted that the trade and economic ties between the world’s two most populous countries used to be likened to “giant ships passing by in the night” in the last few decades, but “the scenario is changing, with realization that China and India’s strengths are complementary rather than clashing.”

“There is awareness in ... both New Delhi and Beijing that given the speed at which the economies of China and India are growing, there is enough room for both to accommodate the other’s growth story,” Saqib said.

India is now the seventh largest export destination for Chinese products, and the 24th largest exporter to China, Saqib said. Data of the Chinese General Administration of Customs shows that Indian exports to China increased 40 percent to US$16.34 billion in 2017, which is “a healthy development.”

Envisioning the future of bilateral economic cooperation, Saqib pointed out that China has become the world’s “most cost-effective workshop for manufactured goods,” while “the Indian manufacturing sector is constantly exploring ways to find cheaper sources of machinery and supply from China” to boost its competitiveness.

China also has the technology and the outbound investment capital to help develop India, he said, noting that China is among global leaders in building infrastructure and has foreign reserves of over US$3 trillion, and what India desperately needs is infrastructure investment.

“China needs export markets for its overgrown infrastructure and construction industries,” he said. India, meanwhile, in need of transforming its development mode, could offer “long-term growth potential and immense opportunities for partnership and enterprise.”

Noting that India and China share common interests on multiple levels of civilization, culture and economy, Saqib said he believes the two neighbors can build on their civilizational ties to successfully manoeuvre their current geo-political and geo-strategic challenges.

“It is in the interests of both the Asian giants to rise together, instead of rising apart,” he said.

ICEC Council, founded in 2003, is an autonomous membership-based organization aiming to enhance economic and cultural cooperation between India and China.

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