International ties

Bridging the China-India gap

By Wang Hui (
Updated: 2010-05-19 14:55
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Bridging the China-India gap

A recent survey conducted by Beijing-based Horizon Research, though by no means comprehensive, should sound alarms that China and India need to do more to deepen mutual understanding, especially at the people-to-people level.

According to the survey, 45 percent of Chinese view India favorably, while 43 percent of Indian respondents view China as a partner. More disturbingly, most Chinese still perceive India, along with the US and Japan, as posing the most threat to China.

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Findings about whether Indians perceive China as a threat are unavailable. But there is ample evidence that a considerable number of Indians do consider China a threat. Suspicion and even hostility toward China also run rampant in Indian society.

The plight of Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh offers an immediate example of this judgment. No sooner had he made some remarks in favor of China during his visit to Beijing earlier this month than the Indian official came under immediate attacks from his own countrymen.

The common practice of India applying stricter terms on imports from China than from Western countries also bears witness to the country’s distrust of its neighbor to the north. Many Chinese experts believe trade protectionism is behind India’s suspension of importing telecom equipment from China.

Apparently, there is a huge gap between how our two countries are perceived by each other and how our two countries wish to be treated.

Due to issues left over from history, the bond between our two peoples is not as close as it was in the Mao-Nehru era. In recent years, the two largest developing countries have both undergone profound social changes while coping with the changing international situation. The West-dominated media machine has also amplified disputes and fuels rancor between us. All that has sowed the seeds of misunderstanding and estrangement.

Beijing and New Delhi vowed to push bilateral ties to a new high while marking the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations last month. More people-to-people level exchanges should be conducted to expand mutual understanding, update our knowledge about each other and improve our perceptions.

The two countries also should tackle their differences in a more constructive and forward-thinking way.

It is in our two peoples’ interests to forge a friendly relationship featuring robust trade ties and deeper political trust. Only when the two Asian giants feel a genuine closeness between them will the world treat our two nations with more awe and respect.