This era of globalisation and economic interdependence calls for mutual trust and amicable settlement of disputes for a better and prosperous tomorrow
MAY 7, 2018
The recent informal two-day visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China in the beautiful city of Wuhan concluded last Saturday, April 28,with the declaration of mutual agreement regarding peaceful resolution of longstanding conflicts. President Xi Jinping and PM Modi shared their thoughts and agreed on the opening up of a new chapter in their relationship. Interestingly this meeting is happening just months after a perilous Doklam dispute which stretched their high-altitude Himalayan border resuscitating fears of war.
While talking to media, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou told reporters that “President Xi stressed that the issues between China and India are of a limited, temporary nature but the relationship between the two countries is extensive and ongoing”. It was Mr Modi’s fourth visit to China after he came to power in 2014. The diplomatic, as well as, economic relations between the two Asian giants a recommendable in this regard. Notwithstanding the presence of regional rivalry and various enduring historical conflicts including the border dispute, issue of Tibet, Dalai Lama and other exiled Tibetans, China and India have always maintained good diplomatic and economic ties. They share approximately $85 billion trade volume, which is much more than the trading volume between China and its all-weather friend and partner Pakistan, which is roughly $15 billion.
Pakistan and China have traditionally remained very close to each other in every thick and thin. Even though they don’t share similar culture, religion, political system or language, their relationship has always remained unique and strong. Particularly after the inauguration of $62 billion CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), which is a flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, this bond started to touch the new heights of magnificence. As a result, for the first time, people to people contacts between two countries started to grow, and Pakistanis got the opportunity to learn from their neighbours and get some inspiration from them. From daily life to international politics, Pakistan has a lot to learn from China, its history, people and culture. Undeniably, Chinese people have played an indispensable role in the development and prosperity of their country. It is because of their perpetual hard work that in a short period of time, China has emerged as the fastest growing economy and one of the influential powers at the global stage. While Pakistanis are still under the influence of colonial time’s practices, Chinese people don’t feel shy in doing their daily life tasks with their own hands such as cleaning of their offices in the morning even by officials regardless of their position in the organisations.
Now is not the time for rivalry or competition. Cooperation is the need of the hour, and can create a win-win situation for the whole region
The most significant as well as beneficial aspect of Chinese investment in Pakistan is that it is based on trade, not aid, as a famous Chinese idiom says, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; teach a man how to catch fish and you feed him for lifetime.” Therefore, it’s in Pakistan’s interest to trust Chinese investment because it will help Pakistan to grow and become strong not temporarily rather permanently. This is one of the distinctive features which clearly differentiate Pak-China relations from Pak-US relations, and this is one of the reasons behind inclination of Pakistani public opinion and support towards China much more than the USA.
On the other hand, in foreign policy arrangements, Pakistan needs to learn from Chinese experience of conflict resolution as China sets an admirable example by resolving disputes with its neighbours through trade as well as diplomacy. Despite multiple issues present between neighbours, China has managed to maintain good economic and diplomatic ties with all of them. China has border issues with almost all of its neighbours, but it has successfully managed the conflict through trade and other diplomatic efforts. Pakistan can follow this model and resolve its longstanding disputes with India as well as with Afghanistan through diplomacy and trade. Resolution of conflicts between Pakistan and its neighbours specifically with India and Afghanistan is inevitable for the success of CPEC.
If China and India can resolve or somewhat manage their conflicts, then Indo-Pak relations can also be normalised as both countries share common history and culture. Moreover, since China has emerged as an active and influential player in the South Asian region, it can also assist in bridging the gaps between Pakistan and India as China did efficiently in the case of Pakistan-Afghanistan peace process by arranging trilateral dialogue which was held on 26 December 2017 in Beijing. On the other hand, India, being one of the most important actors and emerging economy should also come forward to play a constructive role and should adopt a policy of reconciliation towards its neighbours.
This era of globalisation and economic interdependence calls for mutual trust and amicable settlement of disputes for a better and prosperous tomorrow. States simply cannot afford to reside in stalemate situation for a long time. Similarly, peace between two nuclear powers as well as the most important actors of South Asia is not only vital for the development of these two states rather for the peace and prosperity of the entire region. It’s not a time for rivalry or competition rather cooperation is the need of the hour for the win-win situation for the whole region.
The writer is China-based Pakistani PhD student at SIPA, Jilin University. She is working on Terrorism, Foreign Policy, and Peace and Conflict Studies
Published in Daily Times, May 7th 2018.