India-China: Areas of Co-operation

Climate Change

Climate change and environment are important areas in whichthere is much more cooperationthan competition between China and India, and the two rising powers have managed to better leverage their differences and work together globally on energy conservation and efficiency, renewable energy and forest management. “I think China recognises, as does India, that cooperation on climate change and environment has been one of the outstanding success stories of this bilateral relationship,” said Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh.

Even though neither China nor Indiahas agreed to limits on their emissions of greenhouse gases, both are committed to reducingcarbon emissions, by 40 to 45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020for China, and 20 to 25 percent over the same time period for India.

Following the rejection by both countries to set binding caps on carbon emissions as it would hinder development, India signed an agreement with China, the world’s biggest polluter, to increase cooperation on tackling climate change.

The memorandum of understanding was signed ahead of a United Nations climate-change summit in Copenhagen,on 21 October 2009 in New Delhi by India’s environment minister Jairam Ramesh and XieZhenhua, vice minister at China’s National Development and Reform Commission. (1)

India and China took a common stance that wealthy countries including the U.S. should lower emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 and share technology with poorer nations to help them fight climate change.This common stance has helped develop a working relationship and trust in trans-national affairs. “Both India and China are collaborating to ensure a fair and equitable outcome at Copenhagen,” Ramesh said. “There is virtually no difference in Indian and Chinese negotiating positions.”

The Boao Economic Forum, meant to provide a platform for Asian perspectives on global economic issues, has recently introduced a special session looking at cooperation between China and India on economic issues and the environment.

The issues in focus at Boaofor 2013 are reforming the global financial architecture to better accommodate the interests of emerging economies, and exploring Asian cooperation on green energy.

Indian officials said China was, for the first time, “going out of the way” to court Indian participation at the event, reflecting the “bounce” in the bilateral relationship following the Copenhagen climate change summit. The Ministry of External Affairs, for the first time, decided to have a Cabinet Minister representing India at the forum, suggesting it would provide an opportunity for both countries to further consolidate the recent upswing in relations.

Mr. Ramesh said the summit's focus on India reflected “the deepening of the relationship” between the two countries, and also provided a chance for India to draw lessons from China's success in expanding its clean energy sector. “We need to learn a lot from China, which is positioning itself strategically as a leader in green energy and technology,” he said. “China sees itself as a technology supplier in renewable energy, but we are still stuck in the world of technology transfer.”(2)

Discussions would focus on taking forward cooperation in climate change, forestry and environmental protection. “But the larger message is to demonstrate to people of both countries that despite the rhetoric on both sides on issues like the border dispute, there are other important areas of engagement and cooperation that should be developed,” he said.(3)

The Boao Forum is now planning to hold a separate summit in India towards the end of this year or some time early next year, along with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), as part of a new drive to take the summit beyond China to give it a more international stage.

“There is a realisation that India and China have no option but to collaborate closely in this new emerging global architecture,” AmitMitra, secretary-general of the FICCI, told The Hindu. “This is also a very positive sign for China-India relations.”(4)

Health

India and China are exploring a new area of bilateral cooperation in the health sector as Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare GhulamNabi Azad and China's Minister of Health & Population Dr Li Bin met in Geneva in May 2013 at the World Health Assembly.(5)

GhulamNabi Azadsaid the two countries can learn a lot from each other as they hold commonalities like huge populations, gained independence at around the same time, and also are both proponents of traditional medication which can be mutually beneficial if collaborated. He also took note of the bilateral agreement of 1994 relating to health sector and emphasized the need to hasten the work in the areas identified for bilateral cooperation.

Bin stressed to have a more broad-based cooperation in healthcare sector and suggested to formulate a comprehensive framework after mutual and frequent consultations of Working Groups for more intense groundwork to give further incentive to bilateral ties.

Both the sides agreed to have closer cooperation in specific areas like maternal and child health, infectious diseases, geriatrics, emerging health challenges, besides collaboration in specific projects.

Of particular interest to the Chinese Health Minister was to forge collaboration on joint research projects with India for dealing with the threat posed by leukaemia. In turn, Azad pointed towards the cost-effective medicines that China can access from India for the treatment of leukemia.(6)

India is one of the largest suppliers of quality generic medicines which can help China reduce healthcare costs by sourcing medicines from India. Azadhinted towards the slow and troublesome registration process of medicines in China and urged the Chinese Health Minister to take steps for making it smooth.

Bin informed that a separate Ministry of Food & Drugs has been constituted recently and would work on the prospect of a partnership with India.

Counter-terrorism

Trans-national issues like terrorism and counter-terrorism have found a place for itself in Indo-China bilateral talks. Both countries have agreed to cooperate against terror in the neighbourhood, crucial to counter a comeback of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the event of withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan. The US has 66,000 troops in Afghanistan now and the Obama administration plans to withdraw most of the rest by the end of 2014, leaving a small force to train and advise Afghan forces and carry out counter-terrorism efforts. As such, India and China needs to step up their involvement in counter-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan for regional security. Both India and China has good reasons to cooperate and work together in the Afghan situation to stop Islamic militant groups from taking power. China has invested USD 3 Billion in Afghanistan, hence would like a stable government after the US forces depart. China is also getting increasingly concerned at the possibility of instability in in Xinjiang, the Muslim Uygur dominated province where East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) is fomenting a separatist movement. Indian concerns mainly revolve around the impact of a destabilised Afghanistan on the situation in Kashmir.(7)

So far, six rounds of annual Sino-Indian counter-terrorism talks were held between inter-agency delegations headed by Additional Secretary of External Affairs Ministry, NavtejSarna and the Director General, External Security of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, QiuGuohong. Such dialogues aid at building trust and mutual understanding, as well as making their mark as responsible keepers of peace in the neighbourhood.

Officials say the talks at present were aimed at working out convergence and explore the possibility to work out a joint strategy to deal with complex situation unravelling in Afghanistan.Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said, “They [India and China] agreed to remain committed to peace and stability of Afghanistan in the region and support the reconciliation process owned by Afghans and led by Afghan people,"

 

End-notes:

(1) http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/climate-cooperation-changing-indiachina-ties-says-jairam-ramesh/article392921.ece

(2) http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/climate-cooperation-changing-indiachina-ties-says-jairam-ramesh/article392921.ece

(3) http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/climate-cooperation-changing-indiachina-ties-says-jairam-ramesh/article392921.ece

(4) http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/climate-cooperation-changing-indiachina-ties-says-jairam-ramesh/article392921.ece

(5) http://www.smetimes.in/smetimes/news/top-stories/2013/May/22/india-china-discuss-cooperation-healthcare-sector80893.html

(6) http://www.smetimes.in/smetimes/news/top-stories/2013/May/22/india-china-discuss-cooperation-healthcare-sector80893.html

(7) http://www.deccanherald.com/content/325441/india-china-look-cooperate-counter.html

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