We noted in our article entitled India, China, and the Doha Round that India and China have forged a formidable alliance in the Doha Round of negotiations. Now the two “Asian giants” have combined forces in an effort to gain leverage in another multilateral dialogue – this time, the dialogue on climate change that will take place in Copenhagen later this year.

India and China signed an agreement (“Agreement”) on October 21, 2009 on climate change, providing further recognition that the two countries have much to gain from cultivating a long-term, economically-driven partnership. An India-China alliance, however, is a relationship that the developed world will regard with some caution. India and China were accused of conspiring to stall the Doha Round of negotiations in July 2008 and, unless the developed world makes some of the concessions they demand, the combined forces of India and China could present a similar barrier in Copenhagen. 

The Agreement was signed at a ceremony in New Delhi by Minister Jairam Ramesh, of India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests, and Vice Minister Xie Zhenhua, of China’s National Development and Reform Commission. The two countries agreed to work together over the next five years on a variety of initiatives, including collaboration in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy, clean energy technologies, sustainable agriculture, and reforestation. The Agreement also reaffirmed the “principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, in particular that developed countries should take the lead in and continue to reducing [sic] their greenhouse gas emissions and providing financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building support to developing countries.” China accounts for more than 20 percent of global emissions. India accounts for less than 5 percent, but it is the fourth largest emitter after China, the United States, and Russia. Despite the difference in emission levels, however, Minister Ramesh noted on October 21 that there was virtually no difference between the negotiating positions of India and China. Both countries have agreed to work on slowing the growth of greenhouse emissions, but resist making those limits binding and subject to international monitoring.

The Agreement, and the earlier Doha Round collaboration, suggest a transformation of regional and global relationships, albeit within defined and specific sectors. For students of traditional international relations, it ought to be unexpected and counterintuitive. India and China are demonstrating that global issues may encourage regional alliances even as regional issues, historically, might have made such alliances impossible. One day it might even turn out that regional alliances on global issues can help solve the regional divisions over local and regional issues.

China and India fought a war against each other as recently as 1962. Substantial territorial and sovereignty issues continue today, especially with regard to the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, portions of which China claims as South Tibet. In recent weeks, the Indian press has reported on nighttime boundary incursions and troop buildups, and there has been tension between the two countries about an upcoming visit by the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh. Just days before the Agreement was signed, the People’s Daily Online accused India of pursuing a “shortsighted and immature” foreign policy of “befriend[ing] the far and attack[ing] the near.” It stated that India’s “dream of superpower is mingled with the thought of hegemony, which places the South Asian giant in an awkward situation and results in repeated failures.” 

Some may view the emerging economic partnership between India and China with skepticism also in light of China’s historical alliance with Pakistan. China has long regarded Pakistan as its “all weather friend,” and has offered it economic assistance in addition to military aid and support for its nuclear program. However, the friendship may be fraying, probably because it was built in significant part on taking sides against India. Some experts have noted that, as India grows in global importance, China appears to be distancing itself from the unconditional friendship it previously offered to Pakistan. For example, in October 2008, China refused a request from Pakistan’s President for a full blown economic bailout. 

China would be wise to court India and to continue improving relations with its historic rival regardless of its relationship with Pakistan, which China is unlikely to abandon completely in the near future. As the saying goes, nations have no permanent friends and no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. A stronger relationship with India is in China’s economic interest. India commands a much larger place on the issues of the day – the global economy, climate change – than Pakistan, and therefore is more important to China. Although China and Pakistan signed a comprehensive free trade agreement in 2006, trade between China and Pakistan was approximately $7 billion in 2008, contrasted to the $51.78 billion in total trade between China and India.

India’s population of over a billion people, and its growing middle class, make India more like China than Pakistan, and make India an attractive market for Chinese products. China’s new capitalism has a greater future alongside a prosperous India. China replaced the United States as India’s largest trading partner in 2008, and India ranked as China’s tenth largest export destination. The growing importance placed on India by the United States – for example, with the signing of the civil nuclear agreement in October 2008 – also means that China cannot afford to overlook or minimize India’s role in the world. 

Climate change is expected to be on the agenda during President Obama’s meetings with China’s president Hu Jintao in Beijing on November 16 and 17 and with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the White House on November 24. It would be surprising if President Obama were not speaking to China about India, and to India about China, which is all the more reason to expect that China and India will be speaking to each other. Notwithstanding emerging references to a “G-2” of China and the United States, India is no more likely to be left out of the equation from Asia than the European Union could be left out of the conversation with the United States. Should there be no reductio to a G-2, the emerging alliance between India and China may turn out to be a major reason. As for Copenhagen, the weight of the new Asian alliance might make all the difference.



印度环境与林业部部长Jairam Ramesh 和中国发展和改革委员会副主任解振华在新德里签署了协议。两国同意在未来五年内在多方面共同合作,包括提高能效、可再生能源、清洁能源技术、可持续农业和造林。这一协定重申“共同但有区别的责任”原则,要求“发达国家应率先并继续减少其温室气体排放,并向发展中国家提供资金、技术转让和能力建设支持。”中国占全球排放的百分之二十以上,印度仅占不足百分之五的排放,但是是继中国、美国和俄罗斯之后的第四大排放国。虽然两国的排放量不同,但是Ramesh部长指出两国的谈判立场基本没有差别。两国同意减缓温室气体排放增长速度,但是拒绝接受强制性排放量限制并接受国际监督。






当奥巴马总统于11月16日、17日在北京和胡景涛主席会晤时,气候变化估计将是议题之一;当印度总理辛格(Manmohan Sign)于11月24日访问白宫时,气候变化也将是议题之一。如果奥巴马总统未与中方谈到印度将非常令人惊讶,反之亦然,所以中印一定会磋商。中印联盟的简称“G-2”正日益成为流行词;就像欧盟是美国重要的对话伙伴,印度也是亚洲不可忽视的力量。G-2,这一成长中的联盟将在哥本哈根扮演重要角色。