I recently read an article in FT titled Chinese dragon roars over Indian industry saying that the increasing amount of Sino-Indian trade is heavily tilted in China’s favour, with the deficit more than doubling to $9.17bn in the past fiscal year and the growing trade imbalance between the two countries in favour of Beijing has proved to be one of the most contentious issues.According to Financial Times China looks like having the upper hand at least for the next few years. “Let the dragon and the elephant dance together and not be separated by a ‘Chinese wall’,”wrote Amit Mitra, secretary-general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry, in The Times of India, in a call for a more level playing field on trade.

China and India are burying the hatchet after four-plus decades of hostility. A few companies from both nations have been quick to gain competitive advantages by viewing the two as symbiotic. If Western corporations fail to do the same, they will lose their competitive edge–and not just in China and India but globally. The trouble is, most companies and consultants refuse to believe that the planet’s most populous nations can mend fences. Not only do the neighbors annoy each other with their foreign policies, but they’re also vying to dominate Asia.  

Moreover, the world’s fastest-growing economies are archrivals for raw materials, technologies, capital, and overseas markets. Still, China and India are learning to cooperate, for three reasons. First, these ancient civilizations may have been at odds since 1962, but for 2,000 years before that, they enjoyed close economic, cultural, and religious ties. Second, neighbors trade more than non-neighbors do, research suggests. Third, China and India have evolved in very different ways since their economies opened up, reducing the competitiveness between them and enhancing the complementarities. Some companies have already developed strategies that make use of both countries’ capabilities. India’s Mahindra & Mahindra developed a tractor domestically but manufactures it in China. China’s Huawei has recruited 1,500 engineers in India to develop software for its telecommunications products. Even the countries’ state-owned oil companies, including Sinopec and ONGC, have teamed up to hunt for oil together. Multinational companies usually find that tapping synergies across countries is difficult. At least two American corporations, GE and Microsoft, have effectively combined their China and India strategies, allowing them to stay ahead of global rivals.

A historic event, largely unnoticed by the rest of the world, took place on the border between China and India on July 6, 2006. After 44 years, the Asian neighbors reopened Nathu La, a mountain pass perched 14,140 feet up in the eastern Himalayas, connecting Tibet in China to Sikkim in India. Braving heavy wind and rain, several dignitaries—including China’s ambassador to India, the Tibet Autonomous Region’s chairperson, and Sikkim’s chief minister—watched as soldiers removed a barbed wire fence between the two nations.

It seems to be common sense that if two individuals have different skill sets, and if they can both prosper more together rather than apart, they should work together. We see this daily with task forces, management teams, and corporate mergers, and yet when brought to the highest level, countries, working together seems impossible.

I have to agree that the UK is too proud to work together. I am learning every day, that as Briton they value themselves higher than other countries. Their nationalism is extremely high, and is prohibiting UK from “stepping down” to work with other counties. But, as Chinese, could we prosper by freeing the border and collaborating between China and India? I don’t have any evidence to back up my claim, but if my common sense is correct, I would guess ‘yes’.

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