Finally, it was the P-word that popped up as a roadblock. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s response to the issues India considers its “core concerns” was perceived by his hosts as inadequate even though his visit yielded significant success in the area of bilateral trade.
New Delhi had pushed hard for including a reference to Jammu & Kashmir as an integral part of India in the joint statement. But the Chinese side was unwilling because of their sensitivities towards Pakistan.
On the issue of terrorism, New Delhi conveyed its concerns over Pakistan-based terror outfits, but here, too, the joint statement, which committed both sides to fighting terrorism, didn’t mention the 26/11 attack or terrorism emanating from Pakistan soil.
Wen is scheduled to visit Pakistan on Friday following his trip to India.
Addressing the media after the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Wen at Hyderabad House — their 11th over the past few years — foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, who described the talks as “open and candid”, said: “Our concerns about terrorism emanating from Pakistani soil were expressed” during delegation-level talks.
In a firm response to the Chinese rebuff on J&K, India refused to include the usual mention of the “one China principle” and “Tibet Autonomous Region as part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China” in the joint statement.
Wen, whose trip was expected to normalise relations between the two countries, which have spent the last year-and-a-half sparring over issues ranging from Beijing’s claims over Arunachal Pradesh to the damming of the Brahmaputra to reported incursions by Chinese soldiers into Indian territory, failed to allay New Delhi’s concerns that Beijing is increasingly subscribing to Islamabad’s position on Kashmir.
Though the issue of China issuing stapled visas for Kashmir residents is likely to get resolved soon, concerns over Chinese aid for projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Beijing’s stand on Kashmir being a disputed territory rankle New Delhi.
"The need is there for China to look at India’s concerns. The fact is that only when terrorism is addressed will we have a stable region. It affects China also,” Rao said, adding that the Chinese premier had expressed sympathy for the victims of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.