Beijing: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said danger to development comes from extremism of all types and favoured a collective fight against terrorism even as he unveiled his vision of the future of Sino-Indian ties that would focus on mutual prosperity rather than animosity.
In a veiled reference to events in Pakistan and perhaps forces at home, Singh said the rise of non-state actors, often based on intolerance, and narrow conceptions of identity, was a threat to all civilised nations.
“Perhaps the greatest danger to our development comes from extremism of all types, whether in the garb of religion or on the pretext of righting historical wrongs,” Singh said in his speech to Chinese think-tank “Chinese Academy of Social Sciences” here.
“Recent developments in our neighbourhood have brought home to us again the imperative need to collectively fight terrorism and extremism in all forms. As large and diverse societies, we are all placed to demonstrate the benefits of moderation and peaceful co-existence,” he said on the last day of his three-day visit.
In his speech, Singh unveiled his vision of the future of Sino-Indian relations, saying India and China must cooperate in creating a world of positive externalities and mutual prosperity, rather than one based on balance of power calculations and animosity.
“This involves India and China working together closely to ensure a global order in which our simultaneous development will have a positive influence not only on our own economies but also on the rest of the world,” he said a day after India and China agreed to cooperate in various sectors, including civil nuclear energy.
Singh said the two countries were at an exciting point in history when the centre of gravity of the world economy was moving towards Asia.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao shake hands after signing an MoU on India-China Joint Medical Missions at the Great Hall of People in Beijing on Monday. (PTI Photo)
Just as the world economy was largely about western nations in the 20th century, it could be largely about Asia in the 21st century. By the mid-21st century, Asia may well account for more than 50% of trade, income, savings, investment and financial transactions of the world, he said.
Highlighting some key focus areas for the future of Sino-Indian relations, the Prime Minister said first the “knowledge gap” between India and China must be bridged and there was need to make much more sustained effort to ensure proper awareness of each other.
“This not only applies to our culture and history but also to contemporary developments. We need to have more people-to-people contacts to remove misconceptions and prejudices. We need a broad-based comprehensive dialogue at the level of intelligentsia, media, non-governmental professionals and the worlds of culture and the arts.”
Second, there was need to expand cooperation in a broad range of functional sectors including learning from each other’s national developmental experiences, Singh said.
“We would like to learn from China’s success in the creation of physical infrastructure, strategies to provide productive employment outside the agriculture sector, and poverty alleviation. Other areas for potential cooperation are science and technology, public health, education, institution building, water resource management and disaster management.”
Singh said the two countries should harness their complementarities and synergies in the areas of trade and business.
India’s growing consumer market, skilled human resources, and software excellence together with China’s own large market, its manufacturing prowess and cost competitiveness provide the platform for exponential growth in economic ties, he said.
China is already the second largest trading partner of India. On Monday, the two countries agreed to set a bilateral trade target of $60 billion by the year 2010.
He said Asia was today more integrated than ever before in terms of trade in goods and services and investment of capital and knowledge. In the East Asian Summit and other fora, the two countries were discussing several constructive ideas for an open inclusive economic architecture from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.
“We look forward to working with China in this pursuit. I have spoken before of an Asian Economic Community and (I) am glad that progress is being made in that direction,” he added.
In pursuing these initiatives, the Prime Minister said, “We will do it in the Asian way -- avoiding confrontation and building trust, confidence and consensus. It is only in an environment of peace that prosperity in Asia can be sustained. India and China have an important role to play in building peace, security and stability in the region.”
At the global level, he said the two countries should be at the forefront of the emergence of a more democratic global order and of multilateral approaches to resolving global issues. Today’s international institutions, like the UN Security Council, no longer reflect reality and must be democratised, he said.
“We have had useful experience of cooperating in the effort to bring about a successful conclusion of the Doha Development Round of the WTO negotiations, placing the development dimension at its heart. This experience enables us to intensify our efforts to create a more open and equitable trading and financial architecture,” the Prime Minister said.
Singh said environment was humanity’s common heritage and the rights of the people to a fair chance to improve their lot cannot be abandoned because of environmental damage caused by others who followed a path which has squandered the earth’s resources.
“Burden sharing has to be fair and must take into account historical emissions. The recently-concluded Bali Conference provides a framework for future cooperation on this basis. India and China should continue to work together to strengthen international cooperation on this basis,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the rapid growth of India and China would lead to expanding demand for energy. “We have no choice but to widen our options for energy availability and develop viable strategies for energy security.
“We can do much more to jointly develop clean and energy efficient technologies through collaborative research and development. India seeks international cooperation in the field of civilian nuclear energy, including with China.”
He said another area which merited attention was food security. Global trends in food production and prices and changing patterns of consumption were going to put increasing pressure on the availability and prices of basic food items.
These trends posed major challenges for how the food security was being managed in the years ahead. “Our interests are common and we can learn from each other in the strategies we follow,” Singh said.
Referring to the ancient civilisational ties between India and China, Singh said the establishment of peaceful and cooperative relationships in the neighbourhood was an intrinsic element of New Delhi’s foreign policy.
“We realise that our destinies are linked by geography and history. Both India and China seek tranquillity and stability in our immediate neighbourhood and extended region.”
He said the two countries recognised that the world was evolving and developing features of multipolarity. It was natural that major powers, bound together by economic interdependence, would seek to cooperate with each other to mutual benefit. India and China must be part of this cooperative framework.
“I look forward with optimism to the future and the role which India and China are destined to play in the transformation of Asia and the world. This optimism is based on my conviction that there is enough space for both India and China to grow and prosper while strengthening our cooperative engagement.
“History shows that our two great civilisations, flourished for centuries, side by side, interacting and influencing with each other,” he added.
Singh the Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity that the two countries established in 2005 seeks purposeful engagement covering a wide range of areas.
“At the same time, we recognise the obligation we have to put behind us disputes and problems that have troubled our relations in the past.”
Singh said the boundary between the two countries is peaceful. “We are both determined to keep it so while our special representatives seek a settlement of the boundary question. In April, 2005 during the visit of Premier Wen Jiabao to India, we agreed on a set of Political Parameters and Guiding Principles for the settlement of the boundary question.
“We are confident that those Principles will guide us to a mutually satisfactory solution of this issue. We have also agreed to set up a mechanism to look at trans-boundary rivers, and will make a success of its work.”
He said India was satisfied with the results so far and were convinced that the potential for India-China relations was great and would be realised.
The Prime Minister said both India and China were in the midst of rapid transformation with development agenda taking centre-stage in both societies. Though the systems were different people in both countries were united in their aspiration for a better future.
When countries of the size of China and India, together accounting for 2.5 billion people begin to unshackle their creative energies, it impacts on the whole world. “The world knows it and is watching with interest”.
Singh said the success of China has been a stimulus to change in India. This process began in the 1980s and was intensified in 1991.
“In our system change can only be brought about through public debate and it takes time to build a political consensus. However, I am happy to say that in the 16 years that have elapsed since 1991, successive governments in India have carried forward the reform process with the result that India was on a high growth path.”
India’s economic growth during the last five years has averaged over 8.5% annually which was unprecedented and has created confidence that the country could do better, Singh said.
“We are aiming to raise it to 10% year per year in the near future. There is a palpable sense of confidence in the country and optimism about the future.”
He said India recognised the need to ensure that growth was inclusive and equitable like the “harmonious” growth mode in China.
“We have decided to make important structural shifts in the Plan to address the critical constraints that hold us back from achieving our objective of faster and more inclusive growth. As far as growth is concerned, the biggest priority must be the development of infrastructure, including infrastructure in rural areas.
“We proposed to increase investment in infrastructure from five per cent of GDP in 2006 to 9% by 2012 relying on both public and private investment,” he said.