India and China have a lot in common. Both have the largest population, both are growing at a much faster pace than their developed peers and both enjoy the reputation of having a low cost advantage. What is more, their increasing might is being felt in various international conferences and global meets. Their opinions are holding more and more weight in the international arena.
Further, while the Chinese have displayed their skills in manufacturing, India has done very well on the services front. And so, while many opine that India and China are arch rivals, the consensus is that both countries have a lot to gain by working with each other.
But that is easier said than done. In certain core issues both remain at loggerheads. One area where these two nations are rivals is oil. Both India and China have been scouring for oil assets abroad particularly in Africa. And many a time, China has emerged a winner over India in acquiring stakes in oil companies.
The Economist has pointed out that rivalry over gas supplies is also another big concern for Indian policymakers. The reason? They fear that China would be more able to capture gas by building massive pipelines overnight. Not just oil but water is also a matter of contention. For instance, many big rivers flow through India but originate in Tibet. And the worry is that the Chinese could divert these waters for their people. Besides both the countries are still squabbling over border disputes.
On the infrastructure front, China has made considerable progress, while India sadly has lagged behind. Take into account the Beijing Olympics in 2008. China successfully hosted the biggest sporting event in the world while India is struggling to host the Commonwealth Games this year. But India has an edge over China. For starters, on an average Indian corporates have made a wider impact in the global arena as compared to Chinese companies. India's population is also much younger than China. Further, India's principles of democracy holds wider acceptance in the world as opposed to China's communist policies.
Thus, only time will tell whether China and India will be able to leave their differences behind and leverage on each other's strengths. It could probably take years. In the meantime, certain steps taken towards co-operation, however small, will go a long way in improving relations between the two nations.