Modi asks Beijing to review stand on issues that strain ties, announces e-visa for Chinese nationals

  • Sutirtho Patronobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: May 16, 2015 02:01 IST

India and China announced on Friday a set of measures aimed at increased military cooperation and finding a political solution to a festering boundary dispute with Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking Beijing to reconsider its approach on contentious issues that strained ties.

The PM sought to clarify the Line of Actual Control that divides the nuclear-armed neighbours as both sides decided to open more meeting points for security personnel across the frontier and activate hotlines between the military headquarters in New Delhi and Beijing.

"On the boundary question, we agreed to continue to explore a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution," Modi told reporters.

His three-day China visit has witnessed a visible warming of ties between the two Asian giants but lingering problems remain, including tensions on the border, growing bonhomie between Beijing and Islamabad and an increasingly assertive Chinese navy in the Indian Ocean.

"If we have to realise the extraordinary potential of our partnership, we must address issues that lead to hesitation and doubts, even distrust, in our relationship. First, we must try to settle the boundary question quickly. Resolving it is our shared responsibility to the future," he told students at the prestigious Tsinghua University.

Modi met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang for over two hours at the Great Hall of the People and signed 24 agreements worth about $10 billion, including deals on developing rail infrastructure, space research, cooperation between Doordarshan and China Central Television and the opening of new consulates in Chennai and Chengdu.

The leaders also agreed to set up a first-of-its-kind high-powered task force to look at a yawning trade deficit and issues related to the pharmaceutical, agricultural and manufacturing sectors, with India demanding greater access to the Chinese market.

"A shadow of uncertainty always hangs over the sensitive areas of the border region. It is because neither side knows where the LAC is in these areas. That is why I have proposed resuming the process of clarifying it. We can do this without prejudice to our position on the boundary question," Modi said.

Several more business deals are expected in Shanghai, where the PM reached later in the day. He is scheduled to travel onwards to Mongolia and South Korea.

"I stressed the need for China to reconsider its approach on some of the issues that hold us back from realising full potential of our partnership," Modi told the media.

Modi also announced that Chinese nationals would get e-visas for India, an effort to more tourists and boost people-to-people interaction between the two countries.

Sharing more details, foreign secretary S Jaishankar said the leaders agreed to expand the number of 'border personnel meeting' (BPM) points from the current four at Bumla in the eastern sector, Nathula in the Sikkim border, Chushul in the western sector and the recently opened Kibutudamai in the eastern sector.

Counter-terrorism was also in sharp focus during the meeting with the foreign secretary saying the discussion centred round the need to work closely.

He also said China had reacted positively to India's bid to become a member of the 44-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which controls the civil nuclear technology trade regime worldwide.

Appearing relaxed, Li and Modi spent several hours together besides the talks. Both attended a rare and combined Yoga-Taichi performance by Chinese and a few Indian practitioners at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing later in the afternoon.

Modi is to visit the financial hub of Shanghai on Saturday before travelling on to Mongolia and South Korea.


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