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China and India: Looking for Common Ground

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on September 11, 2008

As longtime readers of Eye on Asia know, lots of readers get animated talking about the pluses and minuses of India versus China. There are plenty of reasons for the two Asian giants to be rivals. They did fight a war back in the 1960s and they still have unresolved border issues. The Chinese tradtionally have been friends with India’s archrival Pakistan, and New Delhi recently has been getting closer to Washington (see the nuclear deal between India and the U.S., for exampele). With both of their economies growing fast and needing secure access to raw materials, the Chinese and Indians are competing in Asia and Africa for rights to oil and other commodities.

But leaders from the two sides have been trying to improve ties, which makes a new program from the New School in New York interesting. The school announced yesterday a program it’s launching with two universities, one in India and one in China. The project, with the impressive-sounding name of “India-China Knowledge and Capacity Building Initiative,” will involve the New School, the University of Calcutta and Yunnan University in Kunming. According to the New School, “the project will work to rethink interactions between India and China by focusing on the historically marginalized regions of northeast India and southwest China. Going beyond merely security and area studies, the initiative will develop an interdisciplinary approach in which scholars and students will examine the unique social, cultural and environmental challenges these regions face.”

Sounds worthy. Certainly anything that improves ties among Chinese and Indian researchers is going to be helpful, because right now there’s not that much to speak of. As the Indian news agency IANS reported last month, there’s currently very little academic collaboration between the two sides. Over the past eight years, “researchers from India and China have co-authored 1,807 papers,” IANS reports, based on a recent study published in Current Science, an Indian journal. That’s just 225 a year - for two countries each with populations over 1 billion people. There’s plenty of room for improvement.

Reader Comments


September 14, 2008 10:42 PM

Judging from the characters that abound in this forum (both Indian and Chinese), one might think India and China are destined to be eternal adversaries. Fortunately, in the real world, the Indians and Chinese seem far more pragmatic and are finding ways to cooperate.

Frankly, I have never understood why the competition for resources between India and China is any different than competition between the US, the EU, and Japan. Yes, there are border issues between India and China, but the territories and populations involved are small.

Even the politicians in the two countries seem more level-headed than the tantrum-prone bloggers. Thank goodness.


September 16, 2008 2:32 AM

well these kind of acts are not going to improve the ties because its not just the border clash between these two giants but politics prevail. we often use this phrase "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". this is the case with india and china. both of them are having very strong ties with one another foe nations. so all in all at the moment it seems that training some minors in one class is not the solution.


September 17, 2008 7:07 AM

This article is an American invention to get China and India to be at each others throats, while Americans gloat about Asian countries fighting each other.


September 17, 2008 12:19 PM

This article is an American invention to get China and India to be at each others throats, while Americans gloat about Asian countries fighting each other.

Partha Gogoi

September 18, 2008 12:33 PM

This is perhaps the first time we are seeing a positive focus on "collaboration" as opposed to competing. India's North East and the Yunnan Province already have a connecting road (not in great shape) called the Stillwell Road.....and perhaps the only road link between India and China. This road was built by the American engineers in 1944-45......

This is a welcome move. Are there more details on "New School in New York"

Jalal Alamgir

September 22, 2008 11:36 PM

As I argue in my book, India's Open-Economy Policy, India-China comparisons in most cases are overblown, and construed at times to suggest wrong policies. For example, India often laments about its inward FDI being lower than China's. But there is neither economic nor business reason to expect a parity between the two. A country's ideal FDI rate is determined its resource absorbability, risk, and potential rate of return, not the rate of another sovereign entity. Most of these highly-publicized comparative statistics serve a political not an economic need.

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