(04/10/05) Clyde Prestowitz noted in Time of India
THE RISE & RISE OF CHINDIA
Times of India
Copyright © 2005 Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.
April 10, 2005
THE RISE & RISE OF CHINDIA
India and China. Two ancient civilisations, two emerging superpowers
with lots of history behind - and between - them. But when Chinese
premier Wen Jiabao kicked off his trip to India by flying into
Bangalore rather than Delhi on Saturday, it was clear that history was
the last thing on his mind.
For China-watchers, who can spend hours discussing the nuances of every
signal emanating from Beijing, the message was loud and clear: "Forget
about politics and the past. We want to do business together, and
jointly forge a brave new world. "It's a world that the rest of the
globe seems to be bracing for, albeit with some apprehension. Business
tycoons, statesmen, commentators all talk about how the rise of India
and China is reshaping the global order. Invariably, both countries are
mentioned in the same breath. No conversation about one can end without
the other being referred to. The hyphenation is complete.
Just the other day, Singapore's former prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew,
who's usually been dismissive of India vis-a-vis China, told a seminar
that both countries would shake the world as they spread renaissance
across Asia. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates recently told a conference
of US governors, "I am terrified for our workforce of tomorrow. "
Pointing to the sheer number of graduates in China and India,
particularly engineers, Gates warned, "In the international competition
to have the biggest and best supply of knowledge workers, America is
falling behind. " New York Times columnist Thomas L Friedman, author of
The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, writes.
. . . that "in India and China lies a tale of technology and
geo-economics that is fundamentally reshaping our lives much, much more
quickly than many people realise. . . " Friedman terms this new era
Globalisation 3. 0, a concept very similar to The Great Reverse
described by economist Clyde Prestowitz . The first wave of
globalisation occurred in the 15th century, thanks to Portuguese and
Spanish explorers. The second wave began around the founding of the US,
with the onset of the Industrial Revolution. The Great Reverse began in
the 1990s, coinciding with China and India getting on to the capitalist
Jairam Ramesh, author of Making Sense of Chindia, points out: "In 1950,
the debate was over China or India. In 2005, the debate is on China and
India. That's how far the two nations have travelled. It will be a
while before they can take on the US in terms of hard or soft power.
But their emergence as demographic giants and economic dynamos will
have implications for the rest of the world. "
In India, the discussion has largely centred on how the two countries
stack up as competition, with much breast-beating about how far behind
India trails. But there's an increasing interest in the potential
benefits of cooperation. Foreign secretary Shyam Saran was in Beijing
recently to prepare the ground for Wen's visit. It was decided by both
sides that India and China would not approach each other as rivals but
as partners whose joint clout could alter the world order in their
A senior MEA official says India's advances in IT software, combined
with Chinese advances in hardware, could create a perfect partnership.
The Chinese can learn much from India about the services industry,
technical. . .
. . . and managerial know-how, and developing a world-class private sector.
In comparison, India would do well to emulate the Chinese in developing
infrastructure, manufacturing and providing basic education. Besides,
both countries are huge markets for any number of goods and
commodities. If they were to collectively negotiate, they could extract
very favourable deals from most producers.
Sure, border differences persist. But neither side is getting frantic.
Geographical, legal and security features are being identified. Once
guiding principles are announced during Wen's visit, the two sides will
probably get down to the nitty-gritty.
On other political issues, differences have narrowed. On Kashmir, for
instance, China used to lend vociferous support to the Pakistani
position. Today, its responses are far more nuanced.
C V Ranganathan, former chairman of the National Security Advisory
Board who has also served as ambassador to China, sums up: "One of the
less reported facts over the last few years has been the steady growth
in understanding between India and China. China is readjusting its
policies to Pakistan, so they impinge less on the growth of Sino-Indian
relations. Ultimately, they want stability in this region. The issue of
nuclear and missile transfers to Pakistan is more complicated. But
while China will not dilute the quality of its relationship with
Pakistan, the past links between the two countries are unlikely to
continue. Besides, China's economic and political stakes in India have
So is the time ripe for a strategic alliance between the two countries,
the creation of a 'Chindia' that could rock the world? That could be a
long way away, specially given the Indian wariness about even a free
trade zone. But as the Chinese proverb goes - and never was it more
appropriate - "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single
With inputs from Indrani Bagchi, Sharvani Pandit and Preeti Dawra