India-China Relations Warming up
The Hindu, November 24, 2006
Both sides moving in the "right direction" on civilian nuclear cooperation, say officials
NEW DELHI: Chinese President Hu Jintao has gone "beyond" the support extended by Premier Wen Jiabao to India for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, according to senior South Block officials.
Mr. Hu told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday that China would be happy to see India in the Council, the officials said on Thursday.
Referring to a provision in Tuesday's joint declaration that India and China should have regular summits, they said the idea was to have annual meetings in either of the two countries. From the Chinese side, either the President or the Premier could be present.
While maintaining that relations with China required "careful management," the officials warned that if negatives were allowed to dominate, the relationship would go nowhere. At the same time, the two sides did discuss "negatives."
"We are under no illusions that it is a complex relationship, and a whole lot of issues need to be addressed," the officials said. They, however, were satisfied with the "outcomes" generated Mr. Hu's visit.
On references to civilian nuclear cooperation in the joint declaration, they felt that the two sides were moving in the "right direction," but refused to discuss the specifics. They pointed out that China had responded positively to India's formulations on civilian nuclear cooperation, as reflected in the joint declaration.
Mr. Hu told Dr. Singh that Beijing entered into a "strategic and cooperative" partnership with India not due to political expediency, but on account of a long-term decision taken by its leadership.
The officials said Dr. Singh told Mr. Hu that India welcomed Chinese investment. Quoting Chinese Commerce Ministry statistics, they said Chinese companies (till September 2006) executed projects worth $1.4 billion and bagged works worth $6.4 billion in India.
Some cases of non-approval had been publicised in the press, but as many as 90 per cent of clearances sought by Chinese companies was granted.
On the visa front, the officials pointed out that 1,800 visas were issued recently to Chinese technicians involved in a Reliance pipeline project after the Petroleum Ministry took up the issue. Also, businesspersons could get a multiple-entry visa for six months, while five-year employments visas were also being issued to Chinese.
The officials said the regional trading arrangement being discussed included the concept of a free trade area. In case experts, who are scheduled to submit their report in October 2007, found such an arrangement feasible, the two sides would begin detailed talks.
On the boundary issue, Dr. Singh and Mr. Hu had reached a "strong consensus" that an early settlement must be pursued, and called on the Special Representatives to accelerate their efforts.
Pointing out that a settlement was not round the corner, the officials, said the two countries were committed to reaching an agreement. Both were aware that the strategic partnership would remain "incomplete" till a boundary agreement was reached.