been trained in the past.
While some of Manmohan Singh’s advisors continue to seek a cautious approach, overawed by the current imbalance of power and prosperity between the two countries, the prime minister would be well advised to draw a lesson or two from his other host this week, Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
The power-prosperity imbalance between Russia and the US is even bigger than that between India and China. Yet Putin showed recently how Russia’s geo-political clout can make up for its geo-economic weakness. If US mistakes in the Middle East helped Putin raise Russia’s global profile, China’s missteps and hubris in East and Southeast Asia, once called Indo-China, have opened up new spaces for India’s profile to be raised.
To be sure, India must continue to focus on its domestic agenda of economic growth and development and maintain good relations with all major powers. In pursuing these priorities, India can work with China, being more open to Chinese investment and increased business-to-business links. Over time, both China and India can resolve their border disputes, making sure that incidents like Depsang do not happen again.
However, for a long time to come, both countries would have to earn each other’s trust, given the trust deficit that has built up over the past half a century. Both Manmohan Singh and President Xi Jinping have their “five thoughts” on bilateral relations (‘Five thoughts on China’, IE, March 25), but the one thought that should define their dialogue this week is that both have an obligation and a responsibility to ensure the peaceful rise of Asia in the 21st century. Neither can afford to play zero-sum games, and both would be better off learning to cooperate while competing, avoiding conflict while contending with the trust deficit.
The writer is director for geo-economics and strategy,
International Institute for Strategic Studies and Hon. Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi firstname.lastname@example.org