A timely shot in the arm for Sino-In­dian ties

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Comment Editorials • Opinion -

In­di­ans keenly fol­lowed the wide cov­er­age given by the Chi­nese me­dia to the gen­eral elec­tions and the sub­se­quent lead­er­ship change in In­dia. The im­por­tance that the new In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi at­taches to China can be gauged from the fact that Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang was the first head of govern­ment with whom he talked over the phone af­ter as­sum­ing of­fice. Dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion the two lead­ers shared their thoughts and ideas, which have a bear­ing on bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, and Li in­vited Modi to visit China later this year.

It is against this back­drop that In­dia’s Vice-Pres­i­dent Hamid An­sari is vis­it­ing China from June 26 to 30. An­sari will par­tic­i­pate in the 60th an­niver­sary of the Five Prin­ci­ples of Peace­ful Co­ex­is­tence (known as the Panchsheel Treaty in In­dia), hold dis­cus­sions with his Chi­nese coun­ter­part Li Yuan­chao, and call on Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping dur­ing his five-day visit. In­dia and China, to­gether with Myan­mar, had enun­ci­ated the Five Prin­ci­ples of Peace­ful Co­ex­is­tence in 1954.

The po­si­tion of the vice-pres­i­dent is only sec­ond to that of the pres­i­dent in the pro­to­col of In­dia’s of­fi­cial hi­er­ar­chy. It is in this ca­pac­ity that An­sari, who par­tic­i­pated in the launch of the In­dia-China Year of Friendly Ex­changes in New Delhi on Feb 11, is at­tend­ing the Panchsheel events in Bei­jing on June 28-29.

It au­gurs well that within a month of the for­ma­tion of the new govern­ment in In­dia, Bei­jing and New Delhi have ex­changed im­por­tant vis­its.

China’s For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi vis­ited New Delhi as the spe­cial en­voy of Pres­i­dent Xi ear­lier this month to con­vey the greet­ings of Chi­nese lead­ers and ex­tend in­vi­ta­tion to In­dian lead­ers to par­tic­i­pate in the Panchsheel’s com­mem­o­ra­tive events in Bei­jing.

Dur­ing his visit to In­dia Wang met with In­dian Pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee, Modi and Sushma Swaraj (for­eign min­is­ter), and held frank but cor­dial dis­cus­sions with In­dian of­fi­cials on all sig­nif­i­cant is­sues. As a re­sult, the two sides felt that there is huge un­tapped po­ten­tial for the growth of bi­lat­eral trade.

Wel­com­ing Wang, Mukher­jee said, “In­dia and China have ex­cel­lent re­la­tions”, and the Chi­nese for­eign min­is­ter’s visit would fur­ther strengthen that.

Mukher­jee high­lighted the role the Chi­nese and In­dian economies have played in the re­vival of the world econ­omy and re­ferred to the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries on in­ter­na­tional plat­forms such as the G20, the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund and the World Bank.

Be­sides, the In­dian pres­i­dent hoped the two coun­tries would dis­cover new di­men­sions in their strate­gic co­op­er­a­tive part­ner­ship and move from strength to strength.

Wang de­scribedMukher­jee “as an old friend of China who has made im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion to the growth of re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries”.

In­ci­den­tally, Mukher­jee vis­ited China as In­dia’s de­fense min­is­ter in 2006 when the two sides signed an agree­ment, which ad­vo­cated reg­u­lar ex­changes be­tween lead­ers and of­fi­cials of the two coun­tries’ de­fense min­istries and armed forces.

An­sari’s visit to China is a pre­lude to some im­por­tant in­ter­ac­tions be­tween the lead­er­ships of the two coun­tries, the most im­por­tant of which is the much an­tic­i­pated visit by Pres­i­dent Xi to In­dia some­time later this year.

But be­fore that, Xi andModi are likely to have a one-on-one meet­ing on the side­lines of the BRICS sum­mit in For­taleza, Brazil, next month.

Pre­mier Li, too, is ex­pected to have a sep­a­rate meet­ing with­Modi on the side­lines of the East Asia Sum­mit in Naypyi­daw, Myan­mar, in Novem­ber.

It looks like busy and fruit­ful times lie ahead for China and In­dia on the diplo­matic front. The au­thor is a se­nior fel­low at the In­sti­tute for De­fence Stud­ies and Analy­ses, New Delhi.

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