Rediff Navigator News


Capital Buzz

The Rediff Interview


The Rediff Poll


Crystal Ball

Click Here

The Rediff Special



The Rediff Special/ J N Dixit

The Great Leap Forward

President Jiang Zemin's visit to India this week will be the first-ever visit to this country by a Chinese head of state. Former foreign secretary J N Dixit discusses the relevance of this visit against the backdrop of China's increasing importance in global affairs.

Jiang Zemin The long-awaited visit of President Jiang Zemin to India may take place from November 28 to November 30. The invitation was extended to Mr Jiang nearly four years ago when Mr Narasimha Rao visited China in September 1992. The last highest level political visit from China took place in December 1991 when Mr Li Peng came to Delhi.

Mr Jiang's visit to New Delhi takes place not only in terms of protocol, but also in terms of the fundamental requirement of political reciprocity. Preparatory work for this visit has already been done when India's Foreign Secretary Salman Haider visited Beijing in October 1996 for the scheduled meeting of the Sino-Indian Joint Working Group on the settlement of the boundary issue.

The experts committee of this working group dealing with issues related to military disengagement on the line of Actual Control met in Beijing earlier in September. After a gap of nearly a year, activity galvanising Sino-Indian relations seems to be picking up. Equally interesting is the positive spurt in non-governmental contact between China and India over the last eight weeks.

The Chinese Institute for Contemporary International Relations invited a delegation from the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation led by Mrs Sonia Gandhi to visit China in the last week of August. Mrs Gandhi led a delegation of scholars and former Indian diplomats knowledgeable about China for a three-day discussion. She was received by Prime Minister Li Peng and senior political figures of China.

I was invited by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee for an international conference on 'China and Asia in the 21st Century. I was asked to present a paper at this conference on the specific theme of 'India and China as factors in Asian Stability and Development in the 21st Century.' This was a high-level conference with the senior keynote speakers being Lee Kuan Yew, Helmut Schmidt, Henry Kissinger, former Japanese prime minister Takeshita, George Schultz, Alexander Lukin, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian parliament, and General Aslam Beg of Pakistan. Li Peng personally participated in the inaugural session of this conference.

President Jiang Zemin's visit to Delhi will be the first-ever visit by a president of China and the secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party to India. It would be relevant to speculate on possibilities and prospects. First of all, it is worth taking stock of China with which we have to deal with.

Observing China's foreign policy orientations and its strategic postures, three clear trends are discernible.

First, China desires a peaceful and stable neighbourhood, as it considers this essential for carrying forward China's own economic modernisation and national consolidation programme and projects. China does not seem to be interested in the foreign policy activities of a cosmetically multilateral nature.

Second, China wishes to emerge as a major influence in Asian affairs during the 21st century. The focus of attention in China's foreign policy is the Asia-Pacific region.

Third, China gives high priority to structuring an equilibrium in its relations with the United States, Russia, Japan and ASEAN in that order of priority. I must mention in parenthesis that though India appears on their foreign policy radar screen as a large and important neighbour, for the present they do not visualise India as too influential a strategic or economic factor in Asian development.

Our attitudes and polices towards China are to be fashioned in this overall context.

But even more relevant is to take cognisance of the evolving characteristics of China's society and China's polity. China has a land area of approximately 9.6 million kilometres. It lays claim to 3 million kilometres of territorial seas. Its population which is 1.2 billion now, will stabilise at approximately 1.6 million by 2015 to 2020. China produces approximately 460 million tonnes of food grains.

The rate of growth of China's GDP has averaged at between 10 and 11 per cent per year over the last five years. Between 1991 and 1996, China has attracted $ 110 billion worth of direct foreign investment. China's economic exports predict that in another three and half years, that is by 2000, China's foreign trade will reach the level of $ 400 billion per annum.

China wants to stabilise its defence expenditure at 1.5 per cent of its GDP, that is, at the current levels of this expenditure. The Chinese are also sanguine about controlling population growth and stabilising its population by the first decade of the 21st century.


Home | News | Business | Sport | Movies | Chat
Travel | Planet X | Freedom | Computers

Copyright 1996 Rediff On The Net
All rights reserved