The India-versus-China debate: Asian giants' common interests outweigh differences Feb 17, 2012, 03.21AM IST
By Mukul Sanwal, Former Civil Servant
Preparing for the visit of Chinese Premier Hu Jintao is an appropriate time to consider an Asian perspective of the world in 2030. India and China are competitors; but are they potential opponents? The difficulties between the two emerging powers reflect lingering attitudes rather than conflicting strategic goals. The boundary issue, that has so far defined the relationship, is also moving away from its colonial legacy towards an agreed framework. In the emerging multi-polar world, major powers will have to come to some sort of accommodation with each other shaped by three strategic global shifts. First, a significant shift of power is taking place from the US to Asia as the driver of global politics. The Indian Ambassador to China recently put this in perspective, stating that "we need a stronger relationship, going beyond national politics, one where we understand each others' interests much better. Both of us need a stronger Asia." Liu Zhenmin, China's assistant foreign minister, has also called for a "cooperative partnership". The view from Washington is different. They can no longer maintain their hegemonic status alone and are, therefore, encouraging us to join in securing a military balance of power in Asia, citing the possibility of limited conflicts in the region. Any such understanding would mean acknowledging significant divergent interests with China. The policy issue before us is whether we can work together with China to decisively shape the future of Asia and become major actors in world politics, or we need to partner with the US to contain China, so that we can become a regional power. For military strategists, the unresolved question is China's intentions towards us. One way to answer this question is to understand the second major strategic shift taking place in the...
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