M A I N   N E W S

China dodges core concerns
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, December 16
The much-anticipated summit between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao today was rich in symbolism but poor in substance. Belying New Delhi’s expectations, the Chinese leader remained non-committal on reversing Beijing’s policy of giving stapled visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir or endorsing India’s candidature for a permanent UN Security Council seat.

A joint communiqué issued after the talks suggested few positive outcomes, including a commitment by the two countries to resolve outstanding differences, particularly on the vexed boundary dispute, at an early date through peaceful negotiations.

On the issue of terrorism, the two countries pledged to counter the menace through joint efforts that include disrupting the financing of the menace. They also recognised the need to implement all relevant UN resolutions on the subject, including the one that calls for the proscription of the Pakistan-based Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD). Although there was no mention of the 26/11 terror attacks, the Chinese leader expressed sympathies with the families of the victims of the Mumbai carnage.

It was quite clear from the communiqué that the Chinese side was keen to deepen the economic content of the relationship rather than dealing with contentious issues of core concern to India. The two countries set a new bilateral trade target of $100 billion by 2015 and take measures to promote greater exports to China with a view to reduce India’s increasing trade deficit.

Briefing reporters after the Singh-Wen talks at the Hyderabad House here, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao treaded quite cautiously, laying emphasis on the strong personal chemistry between the two leaders and the rapport they have established during their umpteen meetings.

“Since 2005 (When Premier Wen visited India last), our relations have undergone major transformation and our cooperation has grown significantly.”

Asked why the joint communiqué does not mention India’s ‘one-China’ policy which has found a reference in previous India-China joint statements, she played down the issue, saying New Delhi’s position in the matter has been reiterated from time to time. “I don’t think the issue is a bone of contention…the Chinese Premier appreciated the fact that we have never allowed anti-China activities on our soil.”

However, informed sources said the Chinese side wanted the formulation on ‘one-China’ policy also incorporated in the joint statement but India was unwilling. This is being viewed as an expression of New Delhi’s displeasure with Beijing for questioning the status of J&K.

Talking about the positives that emerged from the India-China summit, she said the two countries have decided to hold annual meetings at the foreign ministers level, established a hot line between the two Premiers, start a strategic economic dialogue, set up a CEO forum and include the Chinese language in the CBSE curriculum apart from signing six MOUs in different areas, including one on China providing hydrological data to India on the Sutlej River in the flood season.

However, it was on the issue of terrorism against India emanating from Pakistan that the Chinese leader, unlike other world leaders who have visited India in recent months, preferred not to put Islamabad in the dock. Obviously, he can’t afford to annoy Beijing’s ‘all-weather’ friend on the eve of his visit to Pakistan from tomorrow.

During the discussion, the PM told Wen that India’s relations with Islamabad could move forward in a substantial manner only if New Delhi’s concerns about the activities of anti-India terror groups were addressed. “Therefore, the need is very much there for China to look at the real concerns of India,” he was quoted as saying.

According to the foreign secretary, the stapled visa issue was brought by the Chinese Premier himself during the talks. He told the Indian leader that China took India’s concerns on it very seriously. He suggested that the officials of the two countries hold ‘in-depth consultations’ so that the issue could be resolved satisfactorily.

When it was pointed out to Rao that there was nothing India could do in this matter and that the issue concerned sovereignty of this country, she said: “The ball (obviously) is in their (China’s) court.”

She also indicated that there was no question of India resuming defence exchanges with China until the stapled visa row was resolved.

On India’s candidature for a permanent UNSC seat, Beijing yet again took an ambiguous stand, reiterating its position that understood and supported India’s aspiration to play a greater role in the UN, including the Security Council. The Chinese Premier said his country would like the inclusion of more developing countries in the UNSC. 

India, china sign six MoUs 

l On green technology

l On exchange of hydrological data of Sutlej

l On media exchanges

l On cultural exchanges

l Between the RBI and Chinese Bank Regulatory Commission

l Between EXIM Bank of India and Chinese Development Bank


Commitment to resolve outstanding differences, including the boundary row

Unequivocal opposition to terrorism in all forms

Hotline set up between two PMs

Annual exchange of visits between foreign ministers

Go-ahead for strategic economic dialogue

New bilateral trade target of $100 billion by 2015

Expand cooperation in infrastructure, environmental protection, information technology, telecommunications, investment and finance. PM expected to visit China next year for BRIC Summit.


No committment on resolving the issue of stapled visas

Remains ambiguous on India’s candidature for a permanent UNSC seat

Not a word on Pakistan and terror emanating from its soil in the joint communiqué 





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