Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh attend a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (AP Photo)
The special treatment accorded to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by China during his two-day visit reflects how importantly Beijing views the bilateral relation, a senior Chinese official said on Friday.
“Prime Minister Singh was accorded very special treatment usually not given to other leaders…like the tour of the Forbidden City and lunch with former Premier Wen Jiabao,” the official said.
Asked whether China raised the issue of Tibet with India, the official avoided a clear answer but said: “There is a feeling that both countries have handled the issue well.”
Beijing routinely accuses the India-based Dalai Lama of instigating separatism and self-immolations in Tibetan areas in China.
The official added that the talks between the leaders were held in a “candid atmosphere".
During his two-day visit Singh was hosted at banquets by both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang.
In a rare gesture, Li also invited Singh to the historic Forbidden City in the heart of Beijing; Wen’s holding a banquet for Singh was also unusual as former Chinese leaders are not known to host visiting leaders from other countries.
Roping in Wen for the Singh trip is being seen as an effort by China to indicate that the continuity of bilateral relations between the two countries will be maintained even though a new leadership took over earlier this year.
Singh and Wen, who know each other for years, have interacted on many occasions and Beijing reasoned that the affable Chinese leader – widely known in China as ‘grandpa Wen’ -- would be the ideal person to assure Singh that Sino-Indian relations were on the right path.
And that, Wen – though he is not in the government – will always back for furthering bilateral relations between the two countries.
Also, he continues to be senior leader with the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).
Singh’s speech at the Central Party School was also a rare event as he was the first Indian leader to have been invited to speak there.
“A distant relative is not as good as a close neighbour,” was how, Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokesperson, described the visit on Friday.
“The Chinese attach great importance to neighbourhood diplomacy and unswervingly pursues a policy of building good neighbourhood relations and partnerships with neighbouring countries,” she said at the regular press briefing.
Hu added that China In future will stay committed to building up strategic mutual trust with neighbours and deepen practical cooperation across.
Singh’s visit was also positively looked at by leading academicians in China.
Focussing on the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA), Qu Xing, president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the agreement was a “landmark” legal document “to regulate the behavior of both sides and will help eliminatepotential misunderstanding and misjudgment.”
Beijing and New Delhi have successfully put the border situation under control and properly handled the latest ups and downs, Qu told state-run English newspaper, China Daily.
Liu Xiaoxue, an expert on Indian economic studies at the Chinese Academy of SocialSciences, said a greater degree of openness between the two huge emerging economies willhelp fully tap potential.
“India should accelerate infrastructure construction to 'help attract investors, especially theworld's leading manufacturers',” Liu said, adding that it would help eliminate India's huge trade deficit against China.