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PM, Wen to meet tomorrow to discuss 'complex' bilateral ties

world Updated: Nov 17, 2011 22:44 IST

Weeks after a war of words between India and China over the exploitation of South China Sea resources, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart Wen Jiabao will meet here on Friday to discuss the future of bilateral ties described as "one of the most complex relationships in the world".

Singh and Wen, who will be meeting here on the sidelines of ASEAN and East Asia Summits, will be discussing the entire range of bilateral relations which have "elements of both competition and cooperation".

On the eve of the meeting, official sources acknowledged that the relationship is fraught with "risks" and there was need to manage it.

This is "one of the most complex relationships in the world," the sources noted, adding that it was "hardest to predict" what course it would take.

The comments assume significance as these come against the backdrop of a war of words between India and China over resources of the South China Sea.

China, which lays claim over entire South China Sea, had openly attacked India in September over its move to explore oil in the maritime area on offer from Vietnam. It had evoked a sharp retort from India.

This was coupled with an incident in which an Indian Naval ship INS Airavat was threatened by the Chinese Navy while moving in that area.

The Indian sources asserted that since it was not clearly defined that the maritime area belongs wholly to China, the laws of the sea will apply. They noted that the countries, which fell in that area, had bilaterally formed code of conduct with China to do business as there was a "flux" with regard to the claim of China.

Pointing out that relationship between India and China is complex, the sources said it has elements of both "competition and cooperation".

While the boundary question continues to be unresolved, relations between the two countries in some other areas like trade have been witnessing a substantial growth.

The sources noted that bilateral trade between India and China had been witnessing robust growth, crossing $61 billion mark last year and 17% increase in the seven months of this fiscal although the "big issue" of imbalance in favour of China remains.

Noting that the Line of Actual Control has been calm for nearly four decades, they said the Chinese intrusions had come down in the last few years although its military capabilities have increased. They, however, did not give any figures.

The sources said the intrusions, from either China or India, had become kind of predictable as both sides know where these will take place but there is no military confrontation.

The intrusions are actually symbolic, with both sides leaving traces like cigarette packets or writing on stones, to assert claim over the territory.

The two countries will be putting in place by this year-end a mechanism for border management which is intended to avoid and address any misunderstandings. The proposal for setting up the mechanism was mooted by Wen during his visit to India last year and decision to set it up was taken when the two Prime Ministers met in Sanya, China, in April this year.