Changing the Narrative
Indian Prime Minister's China trip employs economic cooperation to deepen mutual trust
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UPDATED: May 18, 2015 NO. 21, MAY 21, 2015
Meeting of the Titans

Three majestic lions adorn the national emblem of India. Media reports go that the Modi administration is deliberating on a proposal to turn the lion, rather than the Bengal tiger, into the national animal of India. Whatever one's proclivity with respect to big cats, one cannot deny that either would be apt given the sheer ferocious pace of India's recent development and the tenacity shown by its head of government, Narendra Modi, in furthering his country's cause.

These qualities make it natural that India should join forces with its partner in East Asia. Modi's visit to China from May 14-16 has elevated cooperation and communication between the two neighbors to a new level. This visit represented Modi's first to China since becoming prime minister and another high-level exchange between the two countries following President Xi Jinping's state visit to India last September.

As the world's two most populous countries and major emerging economies, China and India share an aspiration for cooperation and common development. During Xi's visit to India last year, the Chinese president, together with Indian leaders, laid out a strategic blueprint for cooperation between the two countries over the coming decade. Since then, relations between the pair have remained stable and on track. Modi's recent visit was further indication that the two countries' plan for strategic partnership is advancing smoothly.

China-India relations boast a solid foundation. Buddhism, which was introduced from India to China over 1,000 years ago, has become an integral part of Chinese culture. Moreover, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence first posited by China, India and Myanmar 60 years ago have evolved into the cornerstone of China's foreign policy and wielded influence on international stage.

Both countries are members of BRICS, an association of five major emerging economies that also includes Brazil, Russia and South Africa, and have contributed their fair share to world economic development. Prospects for economic cooperation between the two countries are wide-ranging as India represents an important stop along the Silk Road Economic Belt, the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

Since the global financial crisis, both countries have been confronted with the tasks of accelerating reform of their respective domestic economies and transforming their growth models. However, within every challenge lies opportunity. The complementary nature of the two countries' industries creates massive potential for mutual investment and cooperation. Collaboration between the two leviathan economies will open up a huge market, which will in turn have a positive impact on the international community at large.

Although points of difference such as unresolved border issues linger between the two sides, China and India should nonetheless seek common ground while shelving their differences. The eyes—and hopes—of the world are upon us.

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