"The existing international mechanism failed to address the current challenges," Ye Hailin, deputy director-general at National Institute of International Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said at the recent 4th India-China Think Tank Forum.
Co-hosted by the CASS and the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), the forum attracted nearly 150 scholars and representatives of political parties and think tanks from China and India.
"It is mainly because the supporting or dominant power of the current world system has lost the capacity and intention to maintain the stability of the world order, rather it only cares about its own interests," Ye stated at the forum.
Ye noted that emerging powers, such as China and India, do not want to tear down or make fundamental changes to the current world order.
"They are reformers not revolutionists," said Ye, explaining that "China and India want to bring some adjustments to the current world order and resolve international issues through bilateral or multilateral negotiations rather than using force to seek a zero-sum game."
S.K. Mohanty, professor at the Research and Information System for Developing Countries, also agrees that both China and the US are needed for engagement in changing the rules for global socioeconomic architecture.
"Present collaboration in terms of looking into each other's sensitivities would be more beneficial when they cooperate to emerge as a pressure group in the world," said Mohanty.
"China and India can work together in several regional agreements, such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Eurasian Economic Union."
Jayan Jose Thomas, associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, thinks that China's development experience, which is not characterized by blind faith in the power of the markets, has thrown a serious challenge to mainstream ideas of economic growth that evolved mostly in Western Europe and North America.
"China is emerging as a leader in new technologies: telecommunications, artificial intelligence, renewable energy, and electric vehicles," he noted.
Thomas said that there is a large, unmet demand for innovative products for the third world, such as cheap medicines, high value-added or drought-resistant food crops, environmentally sustainable technologies, and renewable energy sources, and there is need for research in new areas, such as biotechnology and nanotechnology.
Sun Xihui, associate professor at the National Institute of International Strategy of the CASS, said that regional integration is not a race for regional hegemony as some realists argue, and jointly defending economic rules-based order and multilateralism, and leading Asian integration are common responsibilities of China and India.
Sun also raised the issue that Chinese private investors seeing India as a risky place may hinder Chinese investment in the South Asian nation, and suggested the Indian government set up industrial zones for Chinese companies.
Issues of mutual concern
Although it is widely acknowledged among many participants that China and India are playing pivotal roles in regional and global affairs in the 21st century, dealing with issues of common concern such as border disputes and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in a healthy and strategic way is essential to their future cooperation.
India announced on November 4 that it would withdraw from RCEP, the largest regional free trade agreement, launched by ASEAN in 2012, citing the potential impact the deal might have on the livelihood of its most vulnerable citizens.
Xie Laihui, associate professor at the National Institute of International Strategy of the CASS, was vocal about the importance of RCEP. It will play a significant and fundamental role in India's quest for a new multipolar global order and embracing Asia's dynamism, Xie said.
"RCEP offers a way for India to join and expand the East Asian supply chains at a time when both India and East Asia desperately need the boost," he added.
Xie noted that RCEP provides a way for India to help join the global value chains in East Asia and integrate into the global economy and have more open trade and investment. Connected to India's strengths in services, it will open East Asia as well as global markets for India.
Besides regional economic cooperation, border issues also came up for discussion at the forum. China and India experienced a military standoff in Doklam in 2017, which put considerable strain on ties.
Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi emphasized in September that the two sides should work together to maintain peace in their border areas, and create conditions for sustained and healthy development of relations.
"Countries can change friendship, but not their borders," said Mohanty at the forum.
"Border is the natural binding factor between both China and India."