M A I N   N E W S

PM in China next month
To hold talks on bilateral issues at BRICS Summit
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

Key irritants in ties

  • Chinese presence in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)
  • Assistance to Pakistan in nuclear field, disregarding international obligations
  • Beijing turning a blind eye to core issues concerning India
  • Stapled visas to residents of Jammu & Kashmir
  • Border row remains unresolved despite 14 rounds of talks

New Delhi, March 12
Amid the ongoing debate over Beijing’s ambition to increase its influence in South Asia, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will travel to China in mid-April to attend the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) Summit on the sidelines of which he will hold talks on bilateral issues with the Chinese leadership.

The Prime Minister’s visit will take place at a time when relations between the two Asian giants continue to be dogged by a host of issues, particularly the Chinese presence in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) and its assistance to Pakistan in the nuclear field, disregarding its international obligations.

Earlier this week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gave its approval to a safeguards agreement for two new nuclear reactors that China will be building for Pakistan at Chashma. Strangely, India, which is a member of the IAEA Board, also gave its nod to the accord, despite a sense of disquiet in New Delhi over the repercussions of the Sino-Pak nuclear nexus for India.

However, it is the bilateral nature of relationship with China that has caused considerable worry in the South Block in recent months. The aggressiveness being shown by China in global affairs and Beijing virtually turning a blind eye to issues of core concern to India have perplexed policy makers in New Delhi. In fact, the Prime Minister himself went on record sometime back to say that China wanted to gain a foothold in South Asia.

The row between the two countries over China issuing stapled visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir still persists, despite Beijing’s assurance to New Delhi that the matter would be resolved to its satisfaction.

China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, continues to maintain ambiguity over backing India’s candidature for a permanent seat on the body although all other four P-5 members-the United States, Russia, France and Britain-have openly endorsed New Delhi’s bid. China refuses to go beyond saying that it recognises India’s ambition to play an important role at the UNSC.

The border dispute remains far from settled despite 14 rounds of talks between the Special Representatives of the two countries. On top of it, China has started developing communication infrastructure and setting rail lines close to the Indian border, forcing India to revisit its China policy.

Strategic observers, however, are confident that it is the burgeoning trade ties between the two countries that will define the nature of their relationship in the years to come. China has now become the second largest economy in the world. At one time, India had the apprehension that its industry would be swamped by the Chinese industry but that fear is gradually evaporating.

During Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in December last year, the two countries decided to increase two-way trade to $ 100 billion in the next five years. The two countries are also said to be mulling over a free trade agreement between them.





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