Sino-Indian links improve
THE historic pact between China and India on the demilitarisation of their 4,000-kilometre border should go a long way towards improving relations between the world's most populous nations.
Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao failed to reach an agreement with his Chinese hosts on the more fundamental issue of re-defining the border, disputes about which caused war in 1962. But the pact should provide strong momentum for more earnest talks in the near future.
Other positive results from the talks included a pact on border trade and plans by President Jiang Zemin and Prime Minister Li Peng to visit India. Equally, geopolitical and economic developments in Asia augur well for ties between these two rapidly developing nations.
Beijing is anxious to devote its resources to economic development and it has mounted an aggressive drive to woo its neighbours. The Chinese leadership has also re-activated a campaign to be a spokesman of Third World countries in such international bodies as the United Nations.
More importantly, with the rapprochement between Beijing and Moscow, some rough edges may have been smoothed from the Russian problem in Sino-Indian relations - the main problem being Moscow's provision of armaments to India, and the fear that some of them might be pointed China's way.
On the economic front, good mutual opportunities have multiplied, with both neighbours embarking on ambitious market reforms.
However, New Delhi is still disturbed by Beijing's growing military ties with Islamabad, which have recently been spotlighted by Washington's condemnation of the alleged export of Chinese M-11 missile technology to Pakistan.