India-China Relations Have Unlimited Scope Despite Delhi Boycotting BRI Meeting

India-China relations are on an upswing even though New Delhi, as expected, boycotted the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF). India’s absence is not surprising writes Chinese state media, but the scope of further improvement of ties between India and China are unlimited.

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The relationship between India and China is more complicated than many other bilateral ties with other nations. Collaboration and competition both contribute to establishing comprehensive ties between the two emerging economies, and coordination on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is just a small part.

India is much stronger than years before, but it seems to have become more sensitive to changes in South Asia. The BRI that touches upon areas where the Indian people most feel vulnerable – Kashmir-related issues – deserves attention to avoid allowing the initiative to become a bottleneck in China-India relations.

Bilateral trade and investment between China and India have been on an uptrend. Many possibilities lie ahead for the two countries. So why focus on negative sentiment toward the BRI?

The China-India relationship has passed through the most difficult times. The linchpin is finding the proper solutions to a range of practical problems. It’s impossible to solve every problem overnight, especially a lack of strategic mutual trust, but small achievements from revolving practical issues will add up, elevating the bilateral relationship steadily to a higher level.

India has for long been worried about its large trade deficit with the world’s second-largest economy. China is willing to grant more market access to Indian exporters in a bid to explore India’s export potential in fields such as agriculture, film, tourism and labour-intensive industries.

Economic statistics have offered some positive signals as media reports said India cut its trade deficit with China by $10 billion to $53 billion in the financial year ended March 31, the most in more than ten years.

But a sound bilateral relationship needs to be reciprocal. We hope that India can provide fair treatment to Chinese enterprises and abandon its long-held mindset that its own industries can only be developed by cracking down on foreign companies and imported goods, especially from China.

Although there are differences over the BRI, China and India are likely to hold a Wuhan-style summit meeting this year to improve fraught ties. Informal dialogue between Chinese and Indian leaders will help create a comfortable atmosphere in which officials can take a pragmatic approach to solve practical problems faced by the two emerging giants.

Originally Published in the Global Times