The joint statement issued by India and China following the talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his visit Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang here on Monday underscored the need for bilateral cooperation in the field of civilian nuclear energy since the two countries had the largest nuclear power programmes in the world.
“As large developing countries committed to promoting the use of clean energy, India and China believe that expansion of the civilian nuclear energy programme is an essential component of their national energy plans to ensure energy security. The two sides will carry out bilateral cooperation in civilian nuclear energy in line with their respective international commitments,” said the joint statement.
The 35-paragraph communique also noted that the peace talks in Afghanistan between the Hamid Karzai Government and the Taliban should be “Afghan-led”, with the regional stakeholders helping to stabilise the war-ravaged country.
New Delhi and Beijing recently held their first standalone dialogue on Kabul, where the two Asian giants have considerable economic interests, besides major security concerns. While India has won a contract for the largest Iron ore mine in Afghanistan, China had started oil extraction there in addition to working on a copper mine. While India believes that the precarious situation in Afghanistan will have a direct security impact, China is worried about terror camps which give shelter to militants from its restive Uyghur minority.
In fact, Afghanistan was the only international matter which was specifically addressed in the joint communique.
“Both sides agreed that the Afghanistan issue concerns regional security and stability. As two important countries in the region, they reiterated their support for an “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” reconciliation process and their commitment to working with regional countries and the international community to help Afghanistan achieve its objective of peace, stability, independence and development at an early date,” it said.
Besides, the joint statement noted that there was “enough space” for the development of India and China and “the world needs the common development of both countries”.
“Both countries view each other as partners for mutual benefit and not as rivals or competitors,” it asserted.
Stressing on the need to address the trade imbalance in bilateral trade,which New Delhi believes is skewed in Beijing’s favour, there was a lot of emphasis on economic cooperation, both bilaterally and regionally.
The joint statement noted that border trade will be strengthened at the Nathu-la pass, with a joint study group to be established for an economic corridor in the BCIM (Bangladesh China, India, Myanmar) region.
A simplified visa regime is also in the works, to expand trade and people-to-people contacts.
The joint statement again reiterated that China backed India’s aspiration to play a greater role in UN, including the Security Council (UNSC), but as usual, it stops short of an endorsement of New Delhi’s candidature for the UN high table.