Foreign Affairs

India-China relations on an ‘upward’ trajectory

NEW DELHI, FEB 14,2012 –

Nepal’s two giant neighbours–India and China, who jostle for influence in their immediate neighbourhood and beyond–seem to be working hard to take their bilateral relations to new heights.

Despite a few irritants, the slew of recent events–ranging from special representative-level bilateral talks to the China visit of India’s External Affairs Minister SM Krishna–have gradually helped improve bilateral ties.

Citing the common opportunities and challenges that need to be addressed jointly by the two countries, India, during Krishna’s visit, proposed that China designate 2012 as the “Year of India-China Friendship and Cooperation”. Beijing has reportedly responded positively to the suggestion.

“I am very happy to inform you that all my Chinese interlocutors readily responded positively to this suggestion. We have now requested our officials to work out the modalities for implementation,” Krishna told the media in Beijing.

During his stay in Beijing in the middle of last week, he met his Chinese counterpart Yang Jeichi, Politburo member Zhou Yongkang, State Councillor and Special Representative to India Dai Bingguo and Minister of International Department Wang Jiarui.

Krishna also inaugurated India’s new $10-million Chancery in Beijing, which he said is a reflection of the growing positive trajectory of New Delhi’s engagement with China.

On one of the sore points in their bilateral relations–the Tibet issue, Krishna said India is ready to help ease the tensions, an unprecedented gesture from New Delhi. China suspects that India and a coalition of Western countries are active in fomenting trouble in one of Beijing’s underbellies: Tibet.

“It is India’s position that Tibet is part of China and as a result of that we are dealing with internal affairs of China,” Indian media quoted Krishna as saying. “Hence, we will have to be very cautious, and any help that we can render to ease the tension, we are willing to do it. But I don’t think that situation will arise.”

The two countries, which are celebrating the 62nd year of bilateral diplomatic ties, have also boosted their mutual engagements in different influential international fora, more visibly in recent times. Whether it be China-India-Russia cooperation or the BRICS along with Brazil and South Africa or the G-20, the two countries have been in close communication, cooperation and coordinated positions on the international financial crisis, climate change, energy, food security as well as other major issues on behalf of the legitimate interests of developing countries, said the official website of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

However, there are a few exceptions to the burgeoning India-China coordination, such as the sharp differences in the United Nations’ Security Council Resolution on Syria.

Though sometimes a sense of bitter mistrust–visibly more on the Indian side regarding Chinese intentions–still prevails, both the sides have tried to mend this fault line with intensified bilateral discussions which seem to be yielding positive results.

For instance, the special representative-level talks held in January this year generated a bilateral agreement to establish a working mechanism, which is believed to further strengthen cooperation on border affairs while helping maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas. Indian diplomats, many a time, have even candidly shared that India’s border with China is the least problematic one.

Positive results have also come in the economic front. The trade volume between these two rising economies has increased from $2.9 billion in 2000 to $61.7 billion in 2010–a 20-fold growth in 10 years. They are now on the way to meeting the $100 billion bilateral trade target by 2015 despite some trade deficits in favour of China.

In the words of Dai Bingguo, the two countries are seemingly moving towards a “golden period to grow bilateral ties”. The recent message of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Kathmandu to maintain cordial relations with India, which was later echoed by his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, points to that direction.

This piece originally appeared in Feb 14,2012 issue of The Kathmandu Post.Here is the link.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.