A good idea
C Raja Mohan argues that it may be a good idea to turn conventional Indian wisdom on its head and bring China into SAARC.
Sino-Indian economic relations are in a phase of explosive growth. From a few hundred million dollars of bilateral trade in the mid-1990s, Sino-Indian total trade is likely to touch $10 billion this year. In a few years, Sino-Indian trade will soon be larger than the total trade turnover in most of the South Asian countries.
India is now negotiating a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement with China. New Delhi and Beijing are also working out separate free trade arrangements with ASEAN. There is no reason then for India to oppose, for example, a free trade treaty between China and SAARC. Such an association will be another building block in the construction of a larger Asian economic community.
India’s outward push and the inviting pull of the Chinese market could reinforce each other and drag the rest of the region into ever tighter economic embrace.
In fact, promoting China’s participation in the economic development of South Asia could be one way of overcoming the political inhibitions in the region towards economic integration. [The Hindu]