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Let the Dragon and Elephant tango
Wang Dehua
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January 11, 2008
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's [Images] visit to China on January 13, is bound to cement the bilateral relations between New Delhi and Beijing [Images].

His visit to China will enhance friendship, increase mutual trust, strengthen cooperation and chart the future course for Sino-India relations. Both countries are committed to pursuing long-term friendship and working closely for common development.

It is of great significance that Dr Singh's visit comes right after the joint military exercise between India and China in Kunming in Yunan province in December. There has also been 'smooth coordination' between the two countries on international, regional and climate-related issues.

According to news reports, Dr Singh will hold official talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and also have separate meetings with President Hu Jintao and National People's Congress Standing Committee Chairman Wu Bangguo.

In my opinion, China is hopeful that Dr Singh's visit will promote strategic co-operative partnership. A good momentum for this was created in 2007 and both countries would want to push this co-operation to a higher level.

The world's two most populous nations have, since a long time, shown the willingness to shoulder more responsibility and play a larger role at the regional and the international level.

It is also expected that India and China will make efforts to push the border issue forward. Both nations have fruitfully explored the framework for resolving the issue through border meetings, headed by special representatives from both sides.

China and India will jointly try to find a fair and rational settlement that is mutually acceptable. Both sides are looking at bringing in new ideas to push the talks in a fresh direction.

To create a bright future together will be a historic mission for both nations. It is the calling of the times. To enter into strategic partnership with India is not an expedient. Rather, it is a firm goal and a strategic decision for the Chinese government.

The late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping had said: 'China and India have a common responsibility for mankind. They need to develop themselves by making good use of an enabling and peaceful international environment. When China and India achieve development, the world will see a true Asian century.'

We live in the era of information technology which is called the 'Second Industrial Revolution.' The entire economic world has been revolutionised.

Thomas Friedman, the renowned New York Times columnist, once observed: 'I was in India interviewing Nandan Nilekani, co-chairman of Infosys Technologies Ltd [Get Quote]. And he said to me: "Tom, the playing field is being leveled." Indians and Chinese were going to compete for work like never before, and Americans were not ready. I kept chewing over that phrase -- the playing field is being leveled -- and then it hit me: Holy mackerel, the world is becoming flat.'

'Historic visits by Chinese premiers, Zhu Rongji (in 2002) and Wen Jiabao (in 2005) to the Indian 'Silicon Valley', Bangalore, symbolised the bright prospects for China, the hardware giant, and India, the software giant, forging a synergic future development.'

Zhu Rongji commented, 'Infosys has offices all over the world, but not in China. The IT talent of both the countries should really work together for each other's progress.'

'As developing economies, China and India have similar goals, to improve their peoples' living conditions. We should support each other in this endeavour,' Rongji said, adding, 'It is widely recognised that India has a fully developed information technology sector. You are the number one exporter of software and China lags behind in that. Your achievements have made us, a friendly neighbour, very proud.'

During his visit to Bangalore in 2005, Premier Wen had said in Bangalore in 2005 that China was producing 100 million cell phones a year. 'Now China has almost 100 million computers and the number of Internet users has reached 100 million. People say the development of the IT industry depends on two factors -- the brain, or human resources, and the market. Our countries have a lot of intelligent people and the world provides an ever broadening market,' he had said.

Wen suggested the setting up of a steering group in both New Delhi and Bangalore to carry out Sino-Indian collaborations in astronomy, genomics, nano-science and micro electromechanical systems. There is a wide field for the software industry to service such developments in the two countries alone, let alone in the wide world.

Item 15 of the Joint Declaration signed by Hu Jintao, Chairman of the People's Republic of China, and then Indian President A P J Abdul Kalam on November 21, 2006, read: 'Given the complementarities that India and China enjoy in the area of information and communication technology, the two sides agreed to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in this sector, through closer policy dialogue and enhanced collaboration among their enterprises, including in third countries.'

Cooperation and partnership, not competition and rivalry, will be the main rhythm of China and India's rise in the information era. Let the Dragon and Elephant tango in building a harmonious Asia and harmonious world as well.

Professor Wang Dehua is the director, Institute of South and Central Asia Studies, Shanghai Centre for International Studies.

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