• Fri
  • Aug 22, 2014
  • Updated: 10:00pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

Pledge to settle border row offers chance to boost Sino-India ties

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 June, 2014, 3:03am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 June, 2014, 9:49pm

The bridge-building that China has promised with neighbouring countries took another major step forward last week with Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to India. Seizing the diplomatic initiative, he met top officials including new Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lay out a fresh vision for relations that have too often been strained. During two days of talks, heavy with friendly rhetoric, he said Beijing was ready for a final settlement of border disputes and willing to substantially boost trade and investment. There is every reason why the nations should resolve differences and cooperate: as neighbours with one-third of the global population, there are enormous benefits for one another, the region and the world.

Modi's landslide election win last month has dramatically changed circumstances. Like President Xi Jinping , he is reform-minded, his priorities being overhauling the economy, cracking down on corruption and building infrastructure. During his 12 years as chief minister of the state of Gujarat, he was markedly China-friendly, visiting four times to attract trade and investment. It would make sense to use his experience as the model to rejuvenate India's flagging economy.

China is only too aware of the opportunities. Premier Li Keqiang was the first foreign leader to phone Modi after he took office. Wang's mission during his visit was to smooth the way for talks, the most immediate being a meeting between Xi and Modi at the BRICS summit in Brazil next month. Both leaders will visit each other's countries this year.

Diplomacy and strengthening dialogue are the best ways forward. Bilateral relations are riven with mistrust, the disputed border over which a brief war was fought in 1962 that China won, being at the centre. Also problematic are China's firm ties with Pakistan, Indian support for Tibetan exiles and India's warm ties with the US and Japan (Modi's first overseas trip next month will be to Tokyo). Nor is trade as it should be for such giant neighbours: volume in the first quarter was US$21.98 billion, skewed in China's favour by US$8.84 billion.

The trade deficit featured high in talks between Wang and his Indian counterpart, Sushma Swaraj. Industrial parks, high-speed railway lines, power stations, pharmaceuticals, software and tourism featured in discussions. Trade and investment will help ties, but the real shift will come only when the issues at the heart of discord are settled. Wang has offered hope of a fresh beginning by making the border row a priority.


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If nothing else, at least a good initiative .....
This is a CCP foreign ministry press release, not a news article.
The SCMP editorial seems to be copied straight out of a government press release.
While there are strong signals to strike a lasting settlement of the border dispute between China and India during the five-year tenure of the new Indian government that has just assumed office, the emphasis will remain on trade which is set to get a boost in the coming years under the new Indian leadership and there are many lucrative areas which will be economically viable and beneficial for both China and India to open up. Together, these two Asian giants can also play a vital role in world affairs. By the way, Indian Prime Minister has already made his first foreign visit as PM to Bhutan where he is right now! The next one is likely to be to Japan in July followed soon after that by a meeting with the Chinese President at the BRICS summit in Brazil where a decision to set up a BRICS Bank is awaiting finalization. A State visit to the US is scheduled for September coupled with the UN General Assembly meeting and the G-20 meeting which he will attend is scheduled to take place in Australia in November this year.


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