Ahead of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to New Delhi this week, Beijing made a rare direct reference to the sensitive dispute of stapled visas.
“We do not exclude the possibility of discussion on any issue,’’ assistant foreign minister Hu Zhengyue told the media in Beijing. He referred to the visit as a ‘big event’ in bilateral ties.
In response to a media query, Hu said that the visa issue would be discussed at the ‘working-level staff’. Wen’s visit comes at the close of an uneasy year for bilateral ties marked by India’s strong objections to Chinese stapled visas for Indians from Jammu and Kashmir. In the past, the Chinese foreign ministry has evaded direct references to the issue in public and only said that its Kashmir policy stays unchanged.
India’s candidature for a permanent place on the UN Security Council will also be discussed, the official confirmed. “We are happy to see India play a bigger role in the international arena including the UN,’’ Hu said, sticking to the Chinese position of not expressing direct support for the bid.
Beijing's pitch ahead of the visit was to emphasise India-China ‘friendship from generation to generation’ and distance India-China relations from US influence. Hu noted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has met Chinese President Hu Jintao and Wen 10 times this year.
“India-China relations have a bright prospect. Both countries have more than one billion people. India-China relations have nothing to do with India-US relations,’’ Hu said in reply to a question.
Indian ambassador S Jaishankar told Xinhua on Monday that both nations were managing their differences. Jaishankar said bilateral problem areas were historic or prevailed because of ‘the old mindset’. “The question boils down to whether one recognises the reality of growing inter-dependence,” he said.
Chinese analysts are commenting more cautiously on the week ahead. In Shanghai, South Asia strategist Shen Dingli told HT Wen’s visit is a ‘regular’ visit. “It is such constant exchange that will help improve relations.”