International and Regional Issues at the High-level Dialogue between India and China in the RIC Trilateral Meeting on Dec 11

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend the Russia--China (RIC) foreign ministers’ trilateral meeting in New Delhi. During the trilateral meeting, the three ministers will discuss major international and regional issues of common concern and will work to deepen trilateral pragmatic cooperation, on Dec 11. Here’s an analysis by Navodita, our Associate Editor, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths. 

The first high-level dialogue is to take place between China and India after President Xi Jinping commencing his second term. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will attend the Russia-India-China (RIC) foreign ministers’ trilateral meeting in New Delhi. During the trilateral meeting, the three ministers will discuss major international and regional issues of common concern and will work to deepen trilateral pragmatic cooperation.

Wang’s visit is regarded as very important as it comes in the wake of the Doklam standoff which strained ties between the two neighbours. The 73-day long Doklam standoff ended on August 28 after Chinese stopped making inroads into the Indian Territory, also claimed by Bhutan. India had objected to it due to security reasons. Wang’s visit is said to be followed by China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi later this month to attend the 20th round of .

Contentious issues like China’s repeated blocking of the listing of JeM chief Masood Azhar, Chinese military continuing to keep large troops presence near Doklam as well as USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor seems to feature in the talks.

Some economists say there are two ways to approach the development strategies and trajectories of India and China, the two economic giants of Asia. Here let us compare the economic growth performance of India and China against the background of the recent literature on the determinants of economic growth around the world.

China’s national economic output was at par with that of Europe around the 1400s. In The Wealth of Nations, (1776), Adam Smith traced the economic stagnation and subsequent decline of China to its policy of virtual isolation and self-sufficiency after 1433, a policy that was not abandoned until 1978. According to Angus Maddison, a researcher, China was still richer than India in 1820. Thereafter, India was the one that grew more rapidly and had one-third higher output per capita than China in 1950.

For a long time, both India and China shared a common legacy of domination, followed by Communism in China and democratic socialism in India. In the two opium wars (1839-43 and 1856-60), Great Britain coerced China to open up to trade, partly to facilitate an exchange of British opium for Chinese tea. The Japanese invasion of 1937, followed by Civil War and the in 1949 did not endear the Chinese to foreign commerce. This, in fact, blunted China’s interest in opening up its economy to the outside world. Similarly, India’s experience at the hands of the East India Company, which came to dominate India before delivering it to the British Crown in 1857, diminished India’s interest in attracting foreign capital to India and opening up to external trade only until recently. These episodes help in explaining why liberalisation of foreign trade took so long both in India and China.

Secondly, economic reform started earlier in China (1978) than in India (1991). So China has been reforming its economy twice as long as India and more radically so. Third, both countries have long coastlines that were conducive to foreign trade and transport as soon as their economies began to open up. Fourthly, both India and China have large overseas , Diasporas that have proved willing and able to contribute to the economic transformation underway in these countries, through , remittances, and other means. These factors have all facilitated economic growth in India and China beyond the possibilities open to many developing countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

The main difference between the growth record of India and China is that India has moved less rapidly in the same direction as China on many fronts at once; India has failed to bring population growth down to a desirable level whereas China has failed to introduce democracy. For a lot of reasons, China’s long-term prospects appear less certain than those of India. China needs democracy as much as India needs slower population growth. Does China then see India as a formidable competitor, rival or a power to reckon with? Most definitely, yes!

China recently asserted its opposition to India’s membership bid to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), saying there is no in its stand and efforts were on to forge a ‘consensus’ among the 48-member elite nuclear club about the admission of new members. China, however, issued a statement saying it supports the NSG to follow the principle of consensus through consultation through transparent and fair intergovernmental process to deal with this issue. China’s repeated stonewalling of India’s membership bid in the NSG had become a major stumbling block in bilateral relations.

Asked whether the issue will figure in the Russia, India, China Foreign Ministers’ meeting to be held on December 11, Geng said that the meeting will focus on pragmatic cooperation. At the same time, they will exchange views on international issues of common concern. What then holds for the trilateral meeting is for us to wait and watch it unfold next week. That economic cooperation and deals will be brought up is a remote possibility with security issues and border relations taking up most of the time.

©Navodita Pande

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Navodita Pande

Navodita Pande

Navodita Pande has been practicing yoga since she was 9 years old in Iyengar Yoga. In April 1995, she performed at the International Yoga Seminar. In January 2003, Navodita taught at Hare Rama Hare Krishna Mandir in New York. Navodita had a Yoga show on NDTV 24x7 and was also the official yoga trainer for Miss Delhi contestants in 2007. She currently teaches Yoga and Reiki to
people in Kanpur.
Navodita Pande
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