When China and India established diplomatic relations in 1950, the move was seen as the start of a promising relationship. Ties soured 12 years later, however, when a border dispute, known as the Sino-Indian War, led to decades of animosity. No surprise, then, that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s (溫家寶) high-profile trip to India, which ends today, is being hailed as a landmark visit.
Retired Indian diplomat Shyam Saran will discuss Wen’s visit, as well as a host of economic and political issues, in Eyeing the Other Giant — India’s Perspective on the Rise of China, a lecture being delivered as part of the Lung Yingtai Cultural Foundation’s (龍應台文化基金會) MediaTek lecture series titled Taipei Salon (台北沙龍). Lung Yingtai (龍應台), a leading cultural critic and professor at the University of Hong Kong, will moderate the lecture.
Saran has extensive diplomatic experience in Asia. Before becoming India’s foreign secretary in 2004, he served as the country’s ambassador to Nepal, Indonesia and Myanmar, and worked at embassies in Tokyo and Beijing. Following retirement in 2006, he worked as a special envoy for an India-US nuclear deal and was India’s chief negotiator at last year’s climate change talks in Copenhagen.
Of late, Saran has focused his attention on relations between Beijing and New Delhi. He says that India should welcome constructive engagement with China on issues where the two country’s interests coincide. He cites climate change and multilateral trade as examples where the two countries have worked together.
But, he adds, political issues continue to hamper closer bilateral ties. In addition to the unresolved border dispute, “China has never hesitated to use its alliance with Pakistan to keep India tethered firmly in South Asia,” Saran wrote in an opinion piece published in India’s Business Standard.
For Saran, one way out of this impasse is for India to pursue a multilateral framework regionally and internationally because “China has been more accommodating towards India whenever it has felt that India’s range of options had expanded,” he wrote.
■ MediaTek Lectures, Eyeing the Other Giant — India’s Perspective on the Rise of China will take place at Zhongshan Hall (台北市中山堂), 98 Yanping S Rd, Taipei City (台北市延平南路98號). The talk will be conducted in English, with simultaneous interpretation in Mandarin (headphones can be rented for NT$200). Admission is free, but those attending must preregister online at www.civictaipei.org or by calling (02) 3322-4907
■ Tomorrow from 2pm to 4pm