The Three day International Conference on “Emerging China: Prospects for partnership in Asia,” organized by Indian Council of world Affairs (ICWA) along with Association of Asia Scholars (AAS) was inaugurated by the Vice President of India Shri Hamid Ansari at historic Sapru House in New Delhi. Ambassador Sudhir T. Devere, Director General ICWA welcomed all the invitees. Hon’ble Vice President delivered the inaugural address. He pointed out the need for the active partnership between New Delhi and Beijing with mutual sensitivity to each other’s concerns for stability, security and prosperity between India and China .The session was attended by about 250 delegates, including Scholars, Diplomats, Government Officials and others both from India and abroad. Prof. Swaran Singh, the President of Association of Asia Scholars, proposed the vote of thanks.
he participants on the first day presented papers and structured the discussion along the following themes:
Multilateral & Strategic Equations in Emerging Asia
- China’s Efforts to Drive Asian Regionalism: Towards Multi-Layered Engagement in Regional Cooperation
- Regional Cooperation: China in East Asian Trends
In the first session, “Multilateral & Strategic equations in Emerging Asia”, the unfolding trends and patterns of relationships between the countries in Asia and with other great powers and the opportunities and the threats to the region were discussed. There was a consensus among the participants that both India and China play a crucial role in emerging Asia. The role of USA, ASEAN and the prospects and problems for multilateralism were greatly emphasized. It was discussed that the east-ward movement of power from the west, rise of non-Western states transformed the unipolar world but the multilateral world will take time to be established. The historical baggage of interstate relationships, threats of hegemony at the regional level and the domestic unrest were mentioned as the stumbling block in this regard.
The second session was centered on “Asian Regionalism and Asian initiatives”. The efforts at regional, sub regional and bilateral level by China and ASEAN were discussed. The soft power strategy was mentioned as the centre stage for strengthening the relations among the ASEAN countries. The participants were unanimous in their views that in the post Asian financial crisis there is an opportunity for a constructive engagement. A ‘creative multilateralism’ was suggested as the way for a democratic cooperation in the emerging world.
“Regional Cooperation: China in East Asian Trends” was the last and the final session of the day. The future of East Asia as a creative mechanism, the role of Japan in the changing contours as its lead role being threaded by China and the significance of the rise of China and India for international relations were broadly discussed. The consequences of the rise of China and India on Malaysia were deliberated upon. The strategies like soft power approach, the multilateral frame works, and sustainable cooperation in non-traditional areas were suggested to improve the cooperation among Asian countries.
Delivering the valedictory address to a packed audience, Dr Shashi Tharoor, Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs noted “The government of India does not view China or China's development as a threat of any kind,”
Dr Tharoor also observed that there is enormous space for both India and China to rise peacefully and both will have to revisit their civilizational path to further strengthen relations and to pursue their enlightened national interests.
Earlier during the day, the conference began with the Fourth session on the theme “Engaging China: Perspectives Across Asia” and was chaired by Ambassador A.N Ram. The participants were of opinion that India’s relations with China had strong historical linkages pivoting on economic interactions and religious contacts. These are significant drivers for cooperation between the two nations thus reducing the possibilities of conflict. Both India and China have coexisted peacefully for about 2500 years barring two years of conflict and these trends are indeed very encouraging for the future of their bilateral relations. Both sides should focus on issues where there is convergence particularly in areas such as Doha round of trade talks, climate change, terrorism, extremism and separatism. These convergences have the potential to overcome mistrust and could form the basis for a strategic architecture in Asia.
The Fifth session, “China and India in the Political Landscape of Asia” emphasized the pivotal position of China and India in any Asian regional security architecture. It was pointed out that China’s economic strength, military capabilities, and veto power in the United Nations Security Council places it ahead of India. It is important for both India and China to harness their historical, cultural, economic, religious roots and both sides have the responsibility to work towards a prosperous Asia.
“China and India: Alliances and Partnerships” was the theme of the Sixth session. It dealt with the complexities and the strengths and weaknesses of two countries. The panelists were of the view that both sides need to think beyond narrow national interests and forge a peaceful, prosperous and harmonious relationship which would be critical for the future for Asia. Such an understanding would prevent any mistrust between the two neighbours.
The seventh session, “Locating China in Future of Asia: Recommendations” discussed the asymmetries that underline the relationship between India and China. The fact that India and China share a complex neighborhood, both need to learn from each other’s experiences and also share common approaches of friendly relations with their respective neighbours. The Joint Vision Document unveiled in 2008 between India and China could be a start point in that direction.
The highlight of the concluding session was a narrative by Shri L.C. Jain who had participated in the 1947 Asian Relations Conference. Sri Jain recounted the spirit and vision of the newly independent India led by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Dr Reena Marawah, Secretary General of AAS, read out a brief report on the conference proceedings and proposed a vote of thanks.