China and India share many things in common. Both are ancient civilizations, draw water from the same Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, are committed to lifting their people out of poverty, and both have been scarred by colonization or semi-colonization. And for both, growth and development are common challenges.
Among the many similarities and commonalities between China and India, what is the most important common denominator, and unique?
China has a population of 1.4 billion and India more than 1.3 billion. They are not only the two most populous countries in the world but also the only two countries with super-populations－a population of more than 1 billion each. None of the more than 200 countries in the world is even close to catching up with the two in terms of population.
Countries have come together to form G7, G20 and Group of 77 (based on their development levels), international organizations, and regional groups and blocs. But with populations of more than 1 billion each, China and India deserve special attention.
Ideally, a country with a super-population should be known not only for its size, but also the quality of life of its people, and its impact on and contribution to the world. Also, countries with super-populations should be more aware of their international responsibilities, stand firm for peace and development, and vigorously oppose wars and conflicts among other countries, in general, and between themselves, in particular.
Besides, countries with super-populations should enjoy special status on global center stage. With the participation of these two countries, every human endeavor should be able to more expeditiously and effectively deliver results. In fact, no regional or global endeavor can bear fruits easily if the two countries are opposed to it.
The worst thing the two countries with super-population can engage in is a military conflict due to a misunderstanding or misjudgment, or unwittingly become victim of a scheme hatched by another major power to fulfill its own geopolitical goals.
The scenario of a conflict between the two neighbors would be devastating. So the two countries should leave no stone unturned in promoting development and advocating peace for their common good and the good of the entire human race.
China and India do have longstanding border disputes along the Himalayas. But as the only two countries with super-populations, they should exhibit more courage, greater vision and wisdom to resolve them peacefully through talks, rather than falling victims to suspicion and misunderstanding. And as ancient civilizations, they have the added responsibility to teach the rest of the world the importance of peace and development.
As such, the two neighbors should deepen cooperation, boost confidence-building, expand their partnership, promote common development, and safeguard peace－for themselves as well as for the rest of the world.
The author is a chair professor at Soochow University, and former English interpreter for Deng Xiaoping.
The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.
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