Commentary: Dragon-elephant showdown not inevitable


By Luo Jun

BEIJING, July 22 (Xinhua) — Behind the ongoing border standoff caused by Indian troops’ trespass into Chinese territory, is an ill-conceived notion of dragon-elephant rivalry that has grown into a major global topic.

Where does the confrontational idea come from?

The China-India comparison emerged as early as in the 2000s, and was elaborated by scholars and media from the United States and Britain.

The book “The Dragon and the Elephant: China, India and the New World Order”, written by Sunday Times journalist David Smith, formally presented the idea to the world. The Financial Times even has a special page for “dragon-elephant rivalry.”

It is fair to say that the concept of China and India being nemeses to each other was cooked by the West, a smart move, pitting the two biggest future competitors of the West against each other.

So who stands to win from a possible India-China war?

At least no one in Asia. Obviously the two would pay a heavy price first of all. Even Japan, the U.S. ally who relies heavily on the Chinese market, would suffer an economic blow, which could turn into a domestic crisis.

Most economies, including those in the West, will find themselves negatively affected by an India-China war in a globalized and intertwined world today.

The only beneficiaries, sadly, will be opportunists, short-sighted nationalist politicians who don’t really have the people’s interests in heart. And the dream of an Asian century would become a puff of wind.

What is the true nature of the China-India relations?

Being the world’s oldest civilizations with a time-honored history and brilliant culture, China and India have long engaged in exchanges and mutual learning.

As the two countries are the world’s biggest potential markets, each with over a billion people, they could develop complementary industries and cooperate in protecting common security.

Working together, China and India could build something unprecedentedly wonderful for not just themselves, but the whole region and the world.

The recent border issue between the two countries shows a lack of strategic trust on the Indian side. What is holding India back is not China, but common problems facing developing countries like corruption, a lack of quality education, healthcare and reforms.

Both China and India need to enhance communication and nurture trust between them, first by recognizing that the two are not born rivals and that harboring ill will against each other is dangerous.

India must understand that China wishes what’s good for the Indian people and would love to see a strong India standing shoulder by shoulder with China.

Meanwhile, just like China, India must remain sober and guard against wrong judgement and irrational perceptions.

Instead of being rivals, India and China have much more common ground, common interests and common aspirations. Both as developing countries, the two need to work together on important issues like fighting climate change, protectionism and the financial privileges of Washington.

Hopefully, wisdom will guide the two countries to common prosperity. There is more than enough room for them to co-exist and thrive in Asia and in the world.

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