The Chinese idiom “the teeth are cold when the lips are gone” was once a perfect description of the strong partnership between China and India in previous international climate negotiations. The world’s two most populous developing nations once stood together to defend their rights to emit carbon, arguing the onus for cuts should fall on industrialised countries who bear historical responsibilities for putting heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere. In Paris, as more than 190 countries negotiate a post-2020 deal to curb emissions and limit global temperature rise, the coalition between China and India is getting weaker. READ MORE: Paris climate summit: developed countries should take lead in tackling global warming, says China’s president But China will need to coordinate more closely with India if it wants to secure the type of climate deal that President Xi Jinping has personally pursued, observers and some Chinese negotiators said. Xi’s joint climate agreements signed with his US and French counterparts in the run-up to the summit already outlined China’s vision for a Paris agreement: an inclusive deal that engages all countries to submit their emission-reduction plans. As such self-imposed targets may mean weaker commitments, reviews every five years will be necessary to ratchet up efforts in future, while greater transparency in the reviews will ensure better implementation. To have these key elements included in the final deal, China will need the support of its great southern neighbour, a country that still prioritises growth powered heavily by fossil fuels, experts said. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told world leaders on first day of the negotiations that a division between developed and developing countries “must remain the bedrock” of global efforts to tackle global warming, as his country still has more than 300 million people without access to electricity. Now that China has become the world’s second largest economy, its climate policymakers have become “more flexible” on the division, having realised that a low-carbon transformation is inevitable to solve the country’s pollution crisis and recalibrate its economy, members of the Chinese delegation to the talks said. China’s offer to peak carbon emissions by no later than 2030 and of HK$3.1 billion in fund for countries most vulnerable to climate change has “created a new category for itself” outside the bifurcation of developed and developing nations, said Li Shuo, senior climate and energy policy analyst at Greenpeace East Asia. “What has evolved from Copenhagen negotiations six years ago is the gradual blurring of the bifurcation, and much middle-ground language has emerged,” said Li. But India’s attitudes have not evolved much. “India is a bit like where China was in Copenhagen, adopting a rather defensive approach on most of the major elements, making it easier to become target of criticism,” he said. READ MORE: Paris climate summit: Earth is a wilder, warmer place since last climate deal in 1997 Having faced a similar situation, China could be in a better position than developed countries trying to persuade India, he said. But even if India was willing to head away from cheap but dirty energy – for instance, to jointly launch a global solar alliance with France – it would hardly budge on the bifurcation issue that it views as a moral principle, said Zhang Xiaohua, a senior programme officer for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Actually, India showed “little interest” when China proposed its climate and energy experts to meet their counterparts in India and explain why China had opted for a low-carbon path, as India feared that China would “dictate” to it on the issue, a source with direct knowledge told the South China Morning Post. China’s chief negotiator Su Wei, however, played down the differences between China and India, saying negotiators from the two countries have maintained close contact “on a daily basis”, and that China would “stand firmly” with other developing nations to pursue a robust deal.