Partnership yes but border first, China told
New Delhi, November 23
The Indian position, conveyed to Chinese President Hu Jintao, was that the boundary question was a baggage the two neighbours were carrying and it would be in the best interests of both Asian giants to resolve it as early as possible.
However, the growing sense of realisation in both New Delhi and Beijing is that their relationship has grown beyond bilateral and that an all-round deepening of ties even as the border issue is being addressed serves as a template for future India-China relationship. Both sides have resolved that there are thorny issues and discordant background, but these things should not deter them from taking this mature and complex relationship forward.
The basic message from the Manmohan Singh-Hu Jintao summit is that India and China are willing to work together not as rivals or competitors but as partners in progress and development. The doubling of the bilateral-trade target from the present $ 20 billion by 2010 is, thus, an extremely modest and doable target, given the 30 per cent annual growth rate in bilateral trade. This is despite the fact that the Sino-Indian boundary is not defined and the Line of Actual Control (LAC) is disputed.
New Delhi’s sense is that the personal chemistry between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Hu was “fantastic”. Here are a few pointers as to why.
The 10-point strategy for taking India-China relations from strength to strength were essentially India’s idea which the Chinese side was gracious enough to accept quickly. The Chinese decision was not born out of political expediency but a choice for a long-term objective.
Besides, President Hu’s assurance to Dr Manmohan Singh that China will be supportive of Indian claim for permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council was a subject brought up suo motu by Mr Hu himself at the restricted meeting with aides between the two leaders. The Indian side has noted with appreciation President Hu’s assurance and will see if its translates into reality.
The contentious issue of Dalai Lama was not brought up during the New Delhi summit and Beijing had not given any demarche to the Indian Government on the “political activities” of the Dalai Lama. China is holding its own talks with Dalal Lama and these talks and the Sino-Indian border negotiations are not necessarily sequential in nature.
There are some aspects of the Chinese policy which have negative implications for India.
However, at the same time, there is recognition by both sides that if they are to continue to focus on the negatives only, the relationship will not go anywhere.
Holding annual festivals in each other’s countries, promoting tourism, encouraging trans-border movements and cultural exchanges could just be the right recipe for turning around the relationship which has acquired global ramifications and the two sides are moving just in the right direction.