Essay on Sino-Indian Relations

The Indian and Chinese Foreign Ministers will soon have a hot line between them which they can get on to any point to quell any misunderstanding between the two countries.

The 13 Moll signed on November 21, 2006 will effectively expand every aspect of the India-China relationship.

Special representatives of both countries have been urged to move swiftly towards a resolution of the boundary dispute.

The two countries will also cooperate on building energy resources and increasing trans-border linkages, which will lead to greater people-to- people contact, making the border increasingly relevant. A Chinese Consulate will be set up in Kolkata and an Indian one in Guangzhou.

The volume of trade is set to double over the next four years. Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to India on November 20, 2006 is an affirmation of the maturing of Indo-China relations. It is also apparent that as their economic muscle develops, the two countries plan to down play any suggestion of rivalry between them.

The joint declaration issued on November 21, 2006 emphasizes that the relationship between India and China “is of global and strategic significance.” “There exist bright prospects for their common development,” the declaration adds, and “they are not rivals for competitors but are partners for mutual benefit.”

India and China have adopted what they call a “10- pronged strategy” to ensure comprehensive development of bilateral relations. A “political push” has been given to negotiations to resolve the boundary dispute, with both leaders urging an early settlement.

The special representatives shall complete at any early date the task of finalizing an appropriate framework for the final package settlement covering all sectors of the India-China boundary,” runs the joint declaration.

Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon said,” Very soon you will be told the dates for the next meeting of the special representatives. The political push (to the negotiations process) is very clear.”

The dates for the next round of talks between National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and his Chinese counterpart Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo were already being worked out, said Menon.

A senior official said that energy security and a pooling of resources — not just in exploring sources of hydrocarbons but also in cooperating in the sphere of civil nuclear energy — was intended to “finesse” China’s largely non-committal attitude towards India’s nuclear aspirations.

India will need the support of China, a key member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, before it can get a waiver to conduct civil nuclear commerce with the other nuclear “haves” of the NSG.

The joint declaration said: “International civilian nuclear cooperation should be advanced through innovative and forward-looking approaches, while safeguarding the effectiveness of international non- proliferation principles.”

The sharing of river waters figured prominently in the talks, with a decision taken to set up a mechanism, comprising experts from both countries, to act as a nodal forum to discuss all water-related issues, Menon said.

The mechanism will discuss “interaction and cooperation on the provision of flood-season hydrological data, emergency management and other issues regarding trans-border Rivers.”

The scope has been extended beyond the two rivers already within the ambit of talks — the Brahmaputra (Yarlung Zangbo) and the Sutlej (Langqen Zangbo) — to include the Parlung Zangbo and the Lohit (Zayu Qu).

Singh and Hu agreed to “revitalize and broaden the India-China Dialogue Mechanism on Counter-Terrorism” to jointly combat terrorism, separatism and extremism, and the linkages between terrorism and organized crime.

China refused — unlike Britain and France — to come out openly to make a pitch for India’s candidature for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

Instead, the joint declaration said: “China attaches great importance to the status of India in international affairs. It understands and supports India’s aspirations to play a greater role in the United Nations.”

The thirteen agreements signed between India and China on November 21, 2006 point to an undercurrent of what a senior Foreign Ministry official called “the maturing of the bilateral India-China relationship.” The two fastest growing world economies and immediate neighbours have achieved a “comfort level,” between themselves, despite persisting areas of differences like the boundary dispute or the Sino-Pak “all-weather friendship.”

A senior official involved in the talks said, they will concentrate on the areas of agreement such as “building trust through trade.” Positioning the two Asian giants as partners, not only in building their bilateral relationship, but also in the regional and global arena, Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh emphasized the need to remove the impression of rivalry between them.

“There is enough space for the two countries to develop together in a mutually supportive manner while remaining sensitive to each other’s concerns and aspirations, as befits good neighbours and partners for mutual benefit,” Singh said in a statement after his talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Stressing the importance of the developing relationship, Singh added: “President Hu and I have agreed that the positive development of India-China relations in recent years must be made irreversible.”

Manoranjan Mohanty, co-chairperson, Institute of Chinese Studies noted that Hu had said his visit was aimed at providing substance, adding specifics to the relationship. According to Mohanty, three very important points emerged from the Joint Declaration.

“The facilitation of investment, through an FTA (Free Trade Area agreement) by 2007; the agreement on science and technology, particularly in the area of civil nuclear co-operation, and the opening of consulates are all crucial,” he said. India already has agreements on civil nuclear cooperation with the US and Russia. “The opening of consulates — in Kolkata and Guangzhou — is very important as it gives China access to Northeast India and India to Southeast China.”

“This agreement is important both for India’s ‘look east’ and China’s ‘look west’ policies,” added Mohanty.

Describing the tone of the declaration as “cool and confident,” he said, “The two countries will strengthen not only bilateral relations but go beyond to establish a fair and equitable global order. Despite there being no dramatic announcement, the overall process of expanding co-operation is very important.”

A different view was provided by Bharat Karnad, research professor of National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research.

“Nothing very extraordinary has come out of the visit,” he said. “It was a sign of things to come when other ministers, but not the Prime Minister himself, went to the airport (to receive Hu) on November 20, 2006,” Karnad noted.

Asked about China’s role at the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), where it has so far been “lukewarm at best” to India’s aspirations, Karnad said the clause — about a civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries — in the joint declaration “does not mean that China will facilitate a consensus at the NSG in India’s favour. In fact, it will probably not.”

“Faced with the India-US deal, the Chinese are trying to cover their flanks by agreeing on co-operation in the nuclear field,” Karnad said. “It is a political maneuver because other than uranium China has nothing to give India whereas India can offer China its advanced technology.”

Karnad was equally skeptical about efforts to hasten a resolution of the boundary dispute, calling it “mere lip service.” “It is a Chinese characteristic of negotiation. They regard time as their ally. It has been a historical Chinese tactic to wear out the opponent,” he said, adding “the status quo will stay.”

Former ambassador to China C.V. Ranganathan, on the other hand, lauded the progress in the dialogue. “Although no ground-breaking announcement has been made, the good thing is that in recent years such joint statements have become programmes for action to keep up the high level of momentum in our relations in various fields,” Ranganathan said. “India and China have, at the very least, reaffirmed their commitment to deepen and diversify relations.”

HU Wants Border Issue Resolved Fast:

Chinese President Hu Jintao on November 22, 2006 appeared eager to resolve the decades old border dispute between his country and India to enable both countries to enhance mutual trust and raise their strategic partnership to new heights.

“India and China should step up friendly consultations and work for an early settlement of the boundary issue,” Hu said at a lecture organized by the Indian Council for World Affairs at Vigyan Bhavan.

Hu said the improvement in Sino-Indian relations has increased the possibility of an early settlement of the boundary issue, which is a “strategic goal” for both the countries. He added that the settlement of the issue would contribute to peace and stability in the region and China was ready to work with India to “actively seek a fair, just and mutually acceptable solution through friendly consultation on an equal footing.”

An early settlement to the issue represents a “shared wish of the people,” Hu said. “We hope to turn the China-India boundary into a bond of good neighborliness and mutually beneficial cooperation.”

Senior Indian officials said there appeared an element of urgency among the Chinese this time to resolve the border issue. In contrast, New Delhi seems to believe that the matter will take time to resolve.

The officials said the previous week’s comments by Sun Yuxi, China’s envoy to India, in which he claimed all of Arunachal Pradesh as being part of China, followed by Hu’s emphasis on an early resolution of the border dispute showed China wanted the issue to be discussed. “For the first time, India is not on the back foot,” a senior official said.

Hu’s remarks came a day after his talks with Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh, during which they decided to accelerate efforts to resolve the border issue.

In a joint declaration issued on November 21, 2006, the two countries had said, “An early settlement of the boundary question will advance the basic interests of the two countries and shall, therefore, be pursued as a strategic objective.”

In his lecture, Hu also sought to place on record China’s gradual tilt towards neutrality in relations between India and Pakistan, saying his country had no “selfish interests” in South Asia.

China, which has acquired observer status at the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), seeks a peaceful and prosperous South Asia, he said. It has openly admitted to its all-weather friendship with Pakistan, but Hu sought to decline his country’s relations with Islamabad from those with New Delhi.

Appreciating the improving India-Pakistan relationship, Hu said his country sought to play a “constructive role” for peace and development in the sub­continent.

He also wanted a higher level of trust, greater consultations and communication between India and China on international affairs, to fulfill their common vision of a “fairer and equitable” world.

Underlining that the destinies of India and China and their people are “once again closely bonded together,” he said,”The course we chart and the pace of our development have major implications for peace and development of Asia and beyond.”