External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s four-day visit to China on June 4 is intended to contain the stresses in bilateral relations that have surfaced in various areas, from Sikkim to Arunachal Pradesh to Tibet. It will be the first high-level contact between the two countries since trouble over the Olympic torch relay fanned anti-China protests by Tibetans across the world.
India has provided asylum to the Dalai Lama whom China blames for fomenting the anti-China protests.
Quietly asserting its sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh, which China also claims as its territory, India has relaxed rules to encourage more tourists to visit the state. And after reports of incursions in Sikkim, India is conducting a fresh survey of ‘cairns’ (or rocky border posts) on the India-China border area there.
The MEA’s “low-key profile” in responding to what analysts have termed China’s “provocatory” acts, including efforts to hack into its internal communications network and servers, is more effective than “making a hue and cry,” a senior official said.
During his talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Mukherjee is likely to raise these areas of concern and review the progress made on the boundary dispute between the countries.
Enhancing trade ties is another key item on the agenda. India and China have set a bilateral trade target of $60 billion by 2010, and the foreign ministers are expected to discuss business. Mukherjee will also inaugurate the new Indian Consulate at Guangzhou.