China Reaches Out to Modi Govt on Trade

Swaraj meets Beijing counterpart; MEA silent on discussion over thorny issues

Published: 09th June 2014 08:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th June 2014 08:33 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: Within two weeks of the Narendra Modi government taking charge, the foreign ministers of India and China met on Sunday and discussed the “entire breadth” of relations — an indication of how fast China wants to engage in talks.

This comes even as six more high-level interactions are being planned for the rest of the year.

With Modi having visited China four times as Gujarat chief minister, Beijing has pushed ahead to capitalise on the PM’s known admiration for Chinese development — with its foreign minister Wang Yi given the status of special envoy of President Xi Jinping for this visit.

Wang had over three hours of talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at Jawaharlal Nehru Bhavan, covering all areas of relations, including issues of “perennial nature” — a euphemism for thorny issues.

“I would characterise these as cordial, useful and comprehensive,” said External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin. “By our count, if we take the engagements likely between our senior leadership and that of China, I could easily say that there may be at least half a dozen such meetings. By senior leadership I mean the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister,” he said.

Modi is likely to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit at Brazil in July. Thereafter, President Xi could visit India in the next few months, while China is keen to host President Pranab Mukherjee for the anniversary celebrations of Panchsheel.

Swaraj is expected to meet her interlocutor again when she attends the ASEAN Regional Forum in Myanmar next month. They will also meet at the East Asia Summit, again in Myanmar, in November, which will be attended by the PM.

“Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the new Indian government has injected a new vitality into an ancient civilization,” Akbaruddin told reporters.

The economy was a large part of the proceedings, with Swaraj talking about increasing Chinese investments here, especially through technical or industrial parks. The MEA joint secretary in-charge of China, Gautam Bambawale, said investments were a way to bridge the trade deficit.

From the Indian side, there was determination that the atmospherics should not be impacted. So the stock answer to any queries on specific issues like stapled visa or border intrusion was that “all perennial issues” came up.

Even on the Chinese side, there was a similar effort. Apparently, China did not bring up the presence of a senior representative from Tibet and Taiwan at the grand swearing-in ceremony of the Modi Cabinet at Rashtrapati Bhavan on May 26.

However, Tibet, one of China’s ‘core issues’, was raised by the visitors. India reiterated its stance that Tibet is a part of Chinese territory and it will not allow Tibetans to conduct political activities against China in India.

There was a big security blanket over central Delhi to prevent protests by Tibetan activists near the various venues. Rallies and protests were held by Tibetan activists near their colonies, under heavy police gaze.

The Chinese special envoy will meet the PM and President on Monday, before leaving for Beijing.

Likely Interactions This Year

June: ARF Summit in Myanmar

June: Anniversary of Panchsheel agreement in China

July: BRICS Summit in Brazil 

September: Possible visit by President Xi Jinping to India

September-October: UN

General Assembly sidelines

November: East Asia Summit in Myanmar

November: G-20 Summit in Australia


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