Minister in town, Beijing, Delhi talk trade

  • Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jun 09, 2014 01:05 IST

India and China seemed set to chart a new course in relations after external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj met her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi for over three hours on Sunday.

This is the first high-level Chinese visit after the NDA government assumed office. The two countries will have six high-level engagements during the course of the year as Wang Yi spoke of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as China’s “friend”, praising the new government for “injecting a new vitality into an ancient civilization.” Yi will meet President Pranab Mukherjee and PM Narendra Modi on Monday.

“While there was a determination to add new content and substance to the relationship, there was understanding that respect for each other’s sensitivities and aspirations was essential for expansion of bilateral relations”, said external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.

For China, these sensitivities include Tibet, and for India, border incidents and Beijing’s involvement in Pakistan occupied Kashmir. India has a long unsettled border with China and New Delhi has, for a long time, listed peace at the border as a cornerstone of India-China ties.

Despite differences that were managed, trade has remained a major bonding factor between the two countries.

ndia and China have set a bilateral trade target of $100 billion by 2015. Swaraj spoke about getting more Chinese investment in India as India looks at ways to address the huge trade deficit with China of around $40 billion.

The talks between Swaraj and Wang Yi—special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping-- come in the wake of the Chinese premier Li Keqiang becoming the first foreign leader PM Modi spoke to over telephone after assuming office.

“The Chinese and Indian dreams have a lot in common. China welcomes and supports India’s development and is ready to engage with the new government of India”, is how Yi had set the tone for the discussions.

The two sides discussed the entire expanse of India-China ties at the Jawaharlal Nehru Bhavan.

“The perennials of India- China engagement are well known so I will not list them in a detailed manner but would like to say that all issues of significance were raised and discussed in a frank manner”, the spokesperson said.

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