Fresh Impetus To Sino-Indian Relations

By R N Das

The roller-coaster ride of Sino-Indian relations, estabilised somewhat with the meeting between Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi on 28-29 October. The 45-minute meeting melted the frost between the two countries.

Prior to the meeting, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had set the tone during his meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister and his visit to Malaysia before landing in Hanoi in the third and last leg of his East-Asian tour. Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said in Tokyo that ‘China’s rise is a fact of life’, implying that China has to be engaged, and not contained, thoughtfully and imaginatively; China needed to be respected and not suspected, trusted and not doubted. Referring to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and the Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Foreign Secretary Ms. Nirupama Rao said that dealing with a ‘peaceful rise of China requires close analysis, study and understanding.’ Elaborating further, the Foreign Secretary quoted Prime Minister as saying it requires developing trust, close engagement and a lot of patience.

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh reiterated his oft-quoted statement that there is enough possibility for India and China to work together as the world has enough space to accommodate the ambitions of both countries. He knows that in this age of globalization and cooperation there is no room for containment, but enough space for engagement in the enlightened interest of both sides.

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit to Japan was keenly observed by the Chinese media. The online nationalist English daily the Global Times wrote that, ‘India and Japan have vowed recently to cement a closer relationship to confront a rising China’ Mr. Ananth Krishnan, the Beijing correspondent of the Hindu, who interviewed Chinese officials and analysts wrote that the views of the newspapers known for their nationalists views did not merit much attention in China. ‘At the government level, and at the level of scholars, who study India, we are very aware of India’s good interaction with the regional countries and the Look East policy, which has been around for a long time’ said Mr. Rong Ying, Vice-President of the China Institute of International Studies.1

Be that as it may, by the time Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh met with Wen Jiabao he had already created the ambience. Over the years a good chemistry has been established between Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao who have met ten times over the years at different venues including at multilateral gatherings.

It was reported that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart impressed upon their officials to ‘work their way through’ all difficult issues. The highlight of the meeting was that the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said that he would be visiting India before the year-end. He also suggested that both sides reach consensus on some major aspects to lay the foundation for the visit. It was also reported that the two Prime Ministers instructed their Special Representatives to address the border issue with a ‘sense of urgency’.

Briefing journalists, the National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon told that the Special Representatives were asked to meet in Beijing before next month end and given clear instructions on how the two leaders wanted them to resolve all difficult issues. The last meeting between the Special Representatives of the two countries, 13th in a row, took place in New Delhi in August last year. The two Prime Ministers ‘mentioned the need to carry the process forward from Guiding Principles and Political Parameters signed in March 2005.’

Referring to the meeting the two Prime Ministers, Rong Ying said, ‘this meeting is very significant, as it has become increasingly important for both sides to better-communicate their interests. Thus the outcome of the meeting between the two Prime Ministers has given rise to cautious optimism.

To keep the tempo of political engagement on an upswing, a very high ranking leader of the Communist Party of China Mr. Zhou Yongkang, who ranks ninth in the hierarchy of the Party, arrived in the capital on 1st November to hold talks with the political leadership in India. External Affairs Minister Mr. S.M. Krishna will also visit China on 14th and 15th November to participate in the Russia-China-India (RIC) meeting to be held there. These high level visits will prepare the ground for a summit level meeting between the two Prime Ministers.

1. The Hindu, 30th September, 2010

Originally published by Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (www.idsa.in) at http://www.idsa.in/idsacomments/FreshImpetustoSinoIndianRelations_rndas_011110

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The Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) is a non-partisan, autonomous body dedicated to objective research and policy relevant studies on all aspects of defence and security. Its mission is to promote national and international security through the generation and dissemination of knowledge on defence and security-related issues. IDSA has been consistently ranked over the last few years as one of the top think tanks in Asia.

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