A secure region

A secure region : As major countries in the Asia-Pacific region, China and India have a unique role towards its peace, stability and development.

A secure region
The global situation in 2015 can be summarised in three words beginning with C: chaos, change and cooperation. Despite the overall stability, elements of chaos remains the cause for concern: lingering economic risks, turmoil in West Asia, terrorism, illegal immigration, drug trafficking and cross-border crimes.

Though World War III may be far-fet-ched, peace and security remain elusive. The Paris attack has sounded the alarm that the rising tide of terrorism has emer-ged as the most serious threat to man-kind. China is a victim to terrorism. Only last month, the Islamic State brutally executed a Chinese citizen while three Chinese senior managers were killed in a hostage crisis in Mali. On top of that, territorial disputes, natural disasters, public health, cyber security and energy security, all pose intersecting challenges.

In the face of chaos, change is the name of the game. Changing global configuration, systems and order call on us to advance reforms and adopt new ideas for new challenges. The 20th century solutions can hardly address the 21st century problems. We must stand on the wave of change so as not to be left behind. Only by bracing for change and preparing for reform can one stay ahead of the curve of time.

Amidst chaos and change, it is all the more important to step up cooperation. Gone are the days when a big power or power bloc can dominate everything, and the “winner takes all” approach can carry the day. In the globalised era, transnational problems require transnational solutions and equal-footed consultation and win-win cooperation is the key.

Though the global situation is severe, the Asia-Pacific region is, on the whole, secure. With 57 per cent of global GDP, 46 per cent of global trade and 40 per cent of global population, it has become a bright spot amidst a chaotic world, a region with the greatest potential and dynamism, an anchor for world peace and stability, and a foundation for world development and prosperity.

On the security front, the region is free from major conflict and hot spot issues are properly managed. The situation on the Korean Peninsula is under control, ceasefire agreement was signed in Myanmar, political and security dialogues were resumed between Indian and Pakistan, and negotiations on territorial and maritime disputes are on an institutional footing.

Economic integration in the Asia-Pacific has picked up speed. Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) continues to make headway with the joint strategic study soon to complete. Negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership have achieved tangible progress and are set to complete by 2016. The ASEAN Community is to be formed by the end of this year.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation has just been concluded. China and the ASEAN signed the protocol on the upgrading of China-ASEAN FTA. These free trade arrangements will forge synergy in shaping an open, inter-connected, balanced, and win-win economic framework in the Asia-Pacific and inject new vigor into the global economy.

Connectivity holds the key to prosperity and connectivity lies at the heart of China’s development efforts. China’s initiatives to build the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and establish the $100 billion Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and $40 billion Silk Road Fund have moved regional connectivity to a fast track.

By date, more than 60 countries and international organisations along the Silk Road have shown support or signed on to the land and maritime Silk Road initiative. A host of economic corridors, industrial parks and cooperation projects are under way and many cross-border roads, railways, pipelines and cargo trains have gone into operation. We welcome all countries on board.

Peace and development is not something given, it must be earned and cherished. As major countries in the region, China and India have a unique role to play for peace, stability and development in the Asia-Pacific. As the largest developing countries, China and India have much to offer each other and face great opportunities to align our strategies, complement each other and substantiate cooperation.

Stepping up cooperation

China-India relations have come a long way. High-level engagement and mutual visits have become a regular occurrence, business and local cooperation is gaining traction, and people-to-people exchanges are booming. The opening of Nathula Pass early this year helps more Indian yatris to realise their life-long dream of pilgrimage to Kailash Manasarovar. The launch of e-visa for Chinese tourists has and will significantly boost tourism and people-to-people exchanges. Mutual visits are likely to hit one million this
year and witness exponential growth in the days and years ahead.

As China-India relations go beyond bilateral scope and acquire increasing global significance, we have stepped up cooperation in multilateral arena such as UN, G20 and BRICS and have closer coordination on major global issues such as climate change, counter-terrorism, energy and food security, global governance, etc. The just-concluded Paris Summit is a case in point where contribution by China and India is widely acclaimed by the international community.    

There is a famous quotation by William Shakespeare, what’s past is prologue. I would add, what’s ahead in China-India relations will be more splendid. Next year, BRICS Leaders’ Meeting will be held in India and G20 Summit will be held in Hangzhou, China, setting the stage for leaders’ engagement.

And in late January, the opening ceremony of “Visit China Year” will be held in Delhi to showcase China’s culture, art and tourism resources. We can envisage more investment, business, tourism, cultural and people-to-people exchanges going forward.

The rise of China and India in parallel is a major geo-political event in the 21st century. Our shared development and closer cooperation will make a huge difference to the region and the world.

(Le Yucheng is Chinese Ambassador to India. Produced above are the excerpts from the address he delivered at DH Dialogue on “The Asia-Pacific Century: India and Big Power Engagement” in New Delhi on December 19)

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