It is always interesting to see pictures of Hu Jintao and Manmohan Singh shaking hands.
This week, the Chinese president and the India prime minister, met in Germany during the annual gathering of the G8. The focus was on the environment and both India and China seemed to be reading from the same sheet.
Their argument was, to paraphrase, that climate issues are important, that they are willing to help, but that it’s up to the developed world to take the (smoke-free) torch and run with it. After all, they say, they cause the problem.
Both China and India, despite the hoopla about their emerging economies, have a lot of problems of their own. They are home to most of the poor people on the planet. Infrastructure is an issue (particularly in India). Legal frameworks are lacking (particularly in China). Corruption is endemic.
If the two countries have one thing in common, is that development is the priority and will remain so for quite some time.
However, both countries have a golden opportunity to do it better than the folks at the G8. After all, the whole point of history is to learn from it.
Doing the same thing others did wrong and claiming there is no other choice may sound fair but it is not responsible.