Co-writing the New Chapter of Dragon-Elephant Tango--Remarks by Ambassador Luo Zhaohui at the Seminar "Wuhan Summit: Sino-India Relations and Its Way Forward"
2018/05/06

(May 4, 2018, Shangri-La Hotel, New Delhi)

I just came back from Wuhan on May 1st. Before going to Wuhan, I was in Beijing participating in the Foreign Ministers' bilateral meeting on 22 April where State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Mdm. Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister at the sidelines of the SCO Foreign Ministers' Meeting. She also called on Vice President Wang Qishan. The two sides focused on the last-minute preparation of the Wuhan Summit. After that meeting, I flew to Wuhan.

On 27th and 28th April, Wuhan was in the limelight of the world.

The informal summit between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minster Modi discussed the landscape of how the dragon and elephant would dance together and the whole picture of the world situation. It is of great significance, fruitful and a milestone in the history of bilateral relations. I want to use five words to outline the outcomes, friendship, cooperation, development, coordination and management.

1. Enhance chemistry and friendship between two leaders

This was the 13th get-together of the two leaders, creating a new model of engagement. Our two peoples enjoyed a long history of friendly exchanges through the ancient silk road, leaving a number of touching stories such as Xuanzang's journey to learn Buddhism in India and Bodhidharma's preaching in China. In 1942, Chiang kai-shek, then leader of the nationalist government of China, visited India to coordinate with India for the anti-Fascism fight. In general, the two countries had more people-to-people exchanges than official exchanges. After the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and India in 1950, Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai maintained close contacts with Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The two sides jointly initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. The leaders' strategic guidance and top-level design to the bilateral relations are of great importance.

PM Modi's visit to Wuhan received warm hospitality from the host. The protocol arrangements were to make the guest relaxed, comfortable and feel at home. President Xi told Prime Minister Modi that he was happy to fulfill his sincere promise to host Modi in Wuhan. He also told the guest that he had only received foreign leader twice outside Beijing over the past five years of tenure and both were for Modiji. The First was in Xi'an in 2015. Wuhan is the second. Modiji was deeply touched.

The two leaders spent 9 hours together in 7 events including 4 one-on-one meetings, walking and tea-tasting along the lakeside, boat ride, and museum tour. The first event of the two leaders was to visit Bianzhong, an antique of musical instrument which was unearthed in Sui County in Hubei Province. The talks started from friendly recalling of home diplomacy and long time interaction between the two leaders. Their respective political experiences were also discussed. Then President Xi mentioned civilizations of the Yellow River and the Yangtze River in China. Prime Minister Modi touched upon civilizations of the Indus River and the Ganges River, and recalled his visit to the Three Gorges Dam when he was Chief Minister of Gujarat. Prime Minister Modi also recalled President Xi's visit to Gujarat when he was presented a vegetarian birthday cake by President Xi.

2. Strengthen mutual trust and bilateral cooperation

The two leaders agreed to continue to maintain strategic communication in different forms such as phone conversation, writing letters, meetings etc.

They discussed about strategic autonomy, concerted efforts to realize Asian Century and reaffirmed that China and India are good neighbors, good friends and good partners.

The two sides agreed to promote trade and reduce trade deficit. They agreed to promote exchanges in the fields of movie, sports, tourism, youth and local contacts. During the meeting, President Xi mentioned that he had watched Bollywood movies such as "Dangal". The two sides agreed to establish high-level people-to-people exchange mechanism.

Modiji used the word of STRENGTH to identify priorities of bilateral cooperation, namely S for Spirituality, T for Tradition, Trade and Technology, R for Relationship, E for Entertainment such as Movies, Art, Dance, N for Nature conservation, G for Games, T for Tourism and H for Health care and Healing.

3. Deepen synergy between China and India's developmental strategy

The two leaders exchanged in-depth views on governance. President Xi introduced China's "Two Centenary Goals", "Made in China 2025", employment, urbanization, environment protection, particularly anti-corruption and poverty alleviation. Prime Minister Modi also introduced achievements and experience of his administration, talked about the economic reform measures and hoped that the two sides could share experience with each other.

Through the summit, the two leaders further deepened their understanding of each others' development strategies and reform measures, and they shared similar views on the historical position, development stage and development goals of the two countries. The two sides viewed each others' developmental intentions in a positive way and decided to build a Closer Developmental Partnership in an equal, mutually beneficial and sustainable manner. They were also committed to support the modernization of China and India.

4. Reinforce coordination on international and regional issues

The two sides agreed to carry out "China India plus" cooperation in Afghanistan and speed up the economic cooperation under the BCIM framework. The two leaders also exchanged views on development on the Korean Peninsula, respective relations with the United States and Russia, and how to coordinate in the WTO to jointly deal trade frictions with the third party.

Prime Minister Modi briefed President Xi on India's "neighborhood first" policy and concept of "the world as one", which coincide with President Xi's idea of "neighborhood diplomacy as high priority", and "to build a community of shared future for mankind". They believed that China-India relations have influence far beyond the relationship itself and have global significance. As two largest developing countries and emerging market economies each with a population of over one billion, China and India are important engines of world economic growth and backbones of the world's multi-polarization and economic globalization.

The two leaders shared the similar views on globalization and agreed that China and India should join hands to tackle global challenges such as climate change, natural disasters and terrorism, increase the representation and say of developing countries and emerging markets economies, promote a more just and equitable world order, in a bid to forge global economic integration, free trade and multilateralism.

5. Manage differences through friendly negotiations.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has taken up the post of the Special Representative of China-India Boundary Question. The two leaders were committed to finding solutions with regard to border disputes through the Special Representatives' Meeting while adopting confidence building measures to maintain the peace and tranquility along the border areas.

Friends,

I would like to further introduce the background of the informal summit. During the SCO Astana Summit last June, Prime Minister Modi proposed to hold an informal summit with President Xi. After the Donglang standoff, President Xi reciprocated a positive confirmation to Modiji during the BRICS Summit in Xiamen last September.

After the Xiamen Summit, both sides have been working very hard to prepare for the informal summit. Our Special Representatives of Boundary Question and Foreign Ministers exchanged visits in a short span of time. The Chinese Vice Foreign Minister and the Indian Foreign Secretary exchanged visits as well. The Chinese Commerce Minister was in New Delhi in March. The Kailash-Mansorova Yatra, the trans-border river issue have been resolved. Particularly, upon the closing of China's Two Sessions on 20 March, President Xi received a phone call from Prime Minister Modi on his re-election. All the events served as warm-ups and preparations for the informal summit.

I also want to share with you the background of Wuhan Summit in a bigger picture.

From the global perspective, in recent years, the developing countries represented by China and India have emerged as a group, contributing to the evolving international structure of "the rise of the east and the decline of the west". At the backdrop of the inverse of globalization and rising protectionism, China and India as two of the biggest developing country and the important emerging market countries, are faced with the pressure of established powers. The two countries also need to explore the way to get along with each other as neighboring emerging powers.

From the respective development of China and India, our combined population and GDP account for 40% and 20% of the world's total. Both countries are at the critical stage of economic development, deepening reform, and advancing modernization. Socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era. The Chinese people are pursuing the Chinese dream. In the meantime, India puts forward a vision of "New India". We should integrate the developmental strategies and share governing experiences.

From the bilateral perspective, the two leaders met 12 times on different occasions and the bilateral relations have maintained good momentum. China is India's largest trading partner. Last year, the bilateral trade volume reached 84.4 billion US dollars. More than 800 Chinese companies are investing and starting business in India, creating over one lakh employment opportunities for India. Practicing yoga, watching Bollywood movies and tasting Darjeeling tea have become fashionable among the Chinese youth. We certainly have some disputes such as boundary and Dalai Lama issues, but we've been committed to managing disputes.

How to coexist with each other, how to look at respective development and how to judge intentions of China and India, are key issues that urgently call for the strategic guidance from the leaders.

Friends,

What is the way forward after Wuhan Summit? I want to sum up with implementation, transmission and action.

Strategic communications, meetings, heart-to-heart dialogues are important. The equal importance is to implement the consensus, transmit personal friendship between the two leaders down to the people, and take more concrete actions.

First, we should fully implement the consensus reached by the two leaders. Wuhan Summit was not a talk shop and we have a lot of follow-ups to accomplish in the future. The two leaders agreed to instruct their competent departments to work out specific plans and measures to implement the consensus. Both sides should firmly keep the direction of bilateral relations, ensure the effective operation of the dialogue mechanisms, carry out more in-depth practical cooperation and promote broader cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Both sides should strengthen coordination and cooperation in the regional and international affairs, promote regional economic integration and connectivity and support the multilateral trading regime. Both sides should also manage differences in a more mature manner.

Second, we should address the concrete issues. China does not seek the imbalance of trade with India. Although the trade deficit is largely caused by trade structure and market factors, both sides can actively study the solution. We will speed up the cooperation of Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar Framework, identify the project in Afghanistan that China and India can cooperate on and establish a high-level cultural and people-to-people exchange mechanism.

Third, we need to accumulate consensus for the following meetings between the two leaders. President Xi and Prime Minister Modi will meet soon during SCO Summit in Qingdao in June. They are likely to meet again during BRICS Summit in South Africa in July and G20 Summit in Argentina in November this year. We need to grasp the opportunity offered by Wuhan Summit, expand the depth and breadth of cooperation and build consensus for leaders' meetings in the near future.

Although Wuhan Summit has concluded, but its realistic and long-term historical significance will become more apparent as time goes on.

Thank you.

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