India China Economic Union - An open letter
December, 2010, by Robinder Sachdev
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Dear PM Wen Jiabao and PM Manmohan Singh
Only a sixth sense of mutuality and common sense can help China – India relations today. While the realities are being resolved and negotiated, we simultaneously and urgently need a powerful new idea of joint interest to both countries.
Alongside this letter, we have also made live a web-based dashboard with questions and thoughts about your most important meetings. Through the dashboard we are stimulating a solution oriented and pragmatic approach among the publics of our two countries.
Economic entanglements are the surest guarantor of peace and development. India and China must start exploratory discussions of any variation of an economic union between the two countries. Working towards such a framework will ensure peace and economic development between both countries.
- The reality of the India China Economic Union may happen in 50 years or 100 years, but by progressing towards such an objective both countries will accelerate friendship and socio-economic development of one-third of global population.
- It is but obvious that in 20-30 years or by 50-100 years the relationship and economics will be so different that we cannot even imagine today. But one thing will be sure – the two countries and our people will be far deeply integrated inter-connected in their economies, cultural understanding, people-to-people linkages, and global challenges.
- Sirs, you can see the future – kindly seize the moment and take a bold step.
- In advance of this summit in Delhi, we had been researching and modeling various thoughts to protect and advance the national interest of each country, as well to make a generational change towards friendship, peace, socio-economic and cultural relations between both countries.
- Our research shows that the first thing both our countries need today, is a sixth sense. The current and historic issues are too deep and will take time to resolve. While these issues are being resolved, it is now time to introduce, in parallel, a sixth sense in our relationship and to create a vision for an India China Economic Union.
- Other research, including a small web-based sample, shows that the topmost problem in relations between China and India is of mutual images, and mutual trust. Apart from the government in each country, this is the top concern in the publics too.
- Therefore the top priority of our leaderships today must be to find a solution to these two problems. By promoting this sixth sense of the imminence of an economic union our leaders will guide the policy and publics of both countries towards peace, people-to-people relationships, and socio-economic development.
- Such a vision will lay the foundations for harmonious growth for hundreds of years ahead. Both countries should set up a joint working group and think tank, funded US$ 10 million by each country, as first step. This economic union may be modeled after the example of European Union or any variation, and the working group should present reports of the progress on sidelines of annual PM level meetings.
Premier Wen Jiabao is visiting India along with a business delegation of over 300 businessmen. Geopolitics, business and people-to-people linkages are all on the agenda. In all these meetings and discussions, the key underlying dynamic will be mutual images and trust.
Mutual Imagery and Trust
To improve mutual imagery and trust, both countries need to take several urgent steps. Each country should take responsibility to take 3 specific steps to build trust and image. These steps should be reflected in the joint communiqué which shall be issued during the visit.
- India has already announced introduction of Mandarin as an optional subject in schools. China must similarly introduce Hindi language in its school system. Also, China must ramp up English speaking skills among its citizens. Lack of English is proving an obstacle to better understanding and business with China.
- Both countries must promote people-to-people linkages. Through tourism, even a weekly flight with free seats; through cultural exchanges, even promoting film shoots in each other; and through youth and business exchange programs. The expatriate communities in each country must be guided by embassies to engage more with host society.
- India must encourage its communist parties to act as bridge in building relations with China. U.S.–India relations improved in large part due to a unique presence of over 3 million Indian American community. Similarly, with China, the communists of India can play a unique role in building image and trust between both countries.
- Any delegation which travels to the other country must be provided a 3 hour orientation and cross-cultural understanding of the country they will visit. The embassies should provide this service to their host country government. The chambers of business must provide this service to the business delegations they take.
- More Chinese students must be given generous scholarships to come and study journalism and MBA in India, and similarly Chinese government must attract Indian students to China. These future businessmen and media leaders will help to promote understanding and economic activity between the two countries and many may settle down in host country.
Improvement in mutual images and trust shall further pave the way for reducing fears and concerns of each country, and for creation of the India China Economic Union. India fears China’s “string of pearls” strategy, and China fears India is ganging up with the US to restrain its growth. China is troubled by India’s stance on Tibet and Taiwan, and India is concerned with China’s behavior on its Western and Eastern borders.
Both countries also need to take fresh confidence building measures. China must vacate the portion of Kashmir which Pakistan ceded to it. India must clarify and settle the Tibet and Taiwan issue with China.
Thus a sixth sense of India-China relations will need a troika approach – all in parallel:
- Improvement of mutual imagery and trust,
- Fresh confidence building measures, and,
- A vision for creating the India China Economic Union.
The author is president of Imagindia Institute.
This open letter can also be read at USINPAC Blogs