Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao spent 3 days in India where he signed $16 billion in deals then moved on to a 3 day visit to Pakistan where he signed commercial and trade deals worth at least $25 billion. It would seem there is a lot to be gained by the two tradition rivals with their mutual northern neighbour. However if there is an obvious distrust between Pakistan and India, there also seems to be a certain edge to relations between China and India and China and Pakistan.
India still remembers quite well the Sino-Indian War of 1962. While the exact benefits to either China or India after the conflict may be debated, for India the fact that the conflict occurred at all remains a point of worry for the country. In the aftermath, India did much to better prepare its military with an eye on China however, considering that both countries in this day and age are nuclear powers; it is questionable that such an armed conflict would happen again.
Can India focus on the economic and not the political? The two countries still have a disputed border and India remains cool about China’s support for Pakistan. Unfortunately according to reports, little or no progress was made on any of the political issues. While economic exchanges did move ahead, the question remains as to whether or not India can better think strategically to the economics of the future with China instead of seeing China as a threat. China is now India’s largest trading partner with bilateral trade expected to touch $60bn during this fiscal year. The two countries agreed to reach $100bn by 2015.
Pakistan also has a complicated relation with China. While Wen praised Pakistan’s fight against terrorism, China supported a U.N. Security Council ban on the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, the humanitarian wing of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) after the November 2008 attack on Mumbai. China also refused to bail out Pakistan in 2008 forcing it to go to the IMF. It is reported that China sees its relationship as more one sided: China invests more in Pakistan that Pakistan does in China. This has to change.
Complex issues, complex relations. However all parties must look to the future, a future of cooperation and economic partnership. Let bygones be bygones; there is too much at stake here.
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