Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wen Jiabao's India Visit

Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had recently said that one can change one's friends, but one cannot change one's neighbors. He had said this in relation to India's neighbors with common borders, which cannot be changed geographically. He had further said it in connection with strengthening India's relations and creation of an atmosphere of goodwill and friendship with neighboring countries.

Border Dispute
India attaches great importance to its relations with all its neighbors; yet having cordial relations with Pakistan and China, with which we have had wars also, assumes greater significance. It needs sheer grit and wisdom to have cordial relations with these neighbors.
Reports of bitter relations between India and China have appeared during recent couple of years because of the border dispute, violation of India's borders by Chinese troops, China's claim on Tawang District and other places in Arunachal Pradesh, issuance of stapled visas to residents of Indian Kashmir, refusal to issue visas to Indian Army generals and commanders posted in Jammu and Kashmir, construction of dam on Brahmaputra River, presence of Chinese workers and officers in occupied Kashmir, and supply of nuclear reactors to Pakistan. These are issues that have been souring relations at almost regular intervals. At the same time, immediate measures to get these issues addressed through mutual dialogues continued. Leaders of the two countries have also visited each other's country to augment bilateral trade and commerce, and expand their sphere.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's India visit is indication of the efforts in this direction by leadership of the two countries. Fourteen rounds of talks have so far taken place between the sides to resolve all these issues. It is hoped that the two prime ministers would discuss almost all issues, including the Chinese claim on northeastern states.

Fresh Avenues of Trade
The Chinese prime minister is accompanied by a 400-strong group of Chinese traders, which reflects that the main aim of his visit is to explore fresh avenues of trade, and expand and extend existing deals. It was for this purpose that Indian and Chinese companies have inked 48 fresh agreements worth $16 billion. Leading companies of both India and China dealing in electricity, telecommunication, steel, wind energy, food and seafood sectors finalized these deals.

Wen Jiabao has asserted that he did not believe the theory that India-China relations are akin to a competition between a dragon and an elephant. Addressing a meeting of traders, he asserted that China-India relations are not based on business rivalry but on collaboration and cooperative partnership. Wen added that he takes the trade imbalance between the countries seriously, and desires that India's IT and pharmaceuticals sectors have access to Chinese markets.

Creating for Investment
Addressing a meeting of corporate organizations, the Chinese prime minister stressed the need of speeding up approval of investments and easing norms of visits by people, so that a conducive atmosphere may be created for investment. It is expected that current trade between the countries would touch $ 60 billion. During 2009, India's export to China was 2.46 percent of its total exports.
During the current year, Indian imports from China remained at 1.37 percent. China imports consist more of precious stones, jewelry, and machinery and metals, while India imports electronic goods, organic chemicals, iron and steel, coke and fertilizers. The Chinese economy is said to be worth $4.98 trillion while that of India is a mere $1.31 trillion.Meanwhile, no sooner than the Chinese prime minister reached India on a three-day visit, a report appeared that Chinese engineers have succeeded in blowing a hillock with dynamite near Arunachal Pradesh border at a place called Metok located in the autonomous area in Tibet. The hillock has been blown to dig a tunnel to join Metok with the rest of China.
It may be mentioned that Metok is not only the last end of the border, but is also the same place fro m where Brahmaputra River enters India. The Indian Government has already expressed its grave concern at the proposal of construction of a dam by China in this area. China has already spent a huge amount of $20 billion on construction of infrastructure in Tibet. India is worried over this because China can deploy its armed forces in a short time at India's borders. It is yet to be seen how India protects its interest along with strengthening its relations with this neighbor.

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