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May 30, 2000
Nuclear issue dropped from Narayanan's speech
Nikhil Lakshman in Beijing
"The President finally decides what to say and what not to say. The final speech is what he delivers at the lecturn," sources close to Rashtrapati Bhavan said on Tuesday evening, dispelling the mystery over the excision of a paragraph on the nuclear agenda from the President's speech to Peking University today.
"Since the nuclear issue did not come up for discussions between the President and (Chinese President), it would have been discourteous if he had said something in public what had not been discussed at the talks, which is why the President decided to delete the paragraph," the sources said.
China, alone among the nuclear powers, has not reconciled to India's nuclear status. That could change now. Current indications are that the Chinese are in a mood to delink the nuclear matter from the ongoing Sino-Indian dialogue.
In the only speech he will make during his week-long visit to China, the President briefly touched upon all the issues that currently dominate Sino-Indian relations.
Thus, he once again drew Chinese attention to the need to reform and restructure the United Nations Security Council. He had made the point during his discussions with Jiang -- to be met with the standard Chinese response that the Security Council needed to be more representative of the developing, rather than the developed, world. (In other words, no Chinese endorsement for India's claim for a permanent seat on the Security Council).
He also mentioned the "scourge of narco-terrorism" and the need for China and India to work together to eliminate the threat of international terrorism. Despite this constant refrain in the Indian position, China has been unwilling to upset Pakistan and has only made roundabout condemnations of terrorism.
In an address punctuated by the inevitable references to Gandhi, Tagore (whose bust he unveiled at Peking University this morning) and Deng, the President once again reiterated that India sought good relations with China, "our most important neighbour." "It is perhaps inevitable that there would be some differences between neighbours. Between India and China too there are differences. That does not mean that these differences cannot be resolved," he said.
"It is in this spirit that we should persevere in our joint efforts to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement of the boundary question within the framework of national interests and sentiments of both our peoples," Narayanan added.
The President appeared to strike a chord with the Chinese when he spoke about how "theories have been advanced of globalisation extinguishing national sovereignties and the exciting diversities of the world, creating some kind of uniform monolithic system." This plays well with the Chinese who fear that they will be marginalised in a unipolar world, dominated by the US.
Narayanan suggested that the appropriate code of conduct or a globalised world "would be the Five Principles of Peaceful co-existence jointly offered to the world by China and India, and not overlordship by any one nation or groups of nations."
Narayanan met Li Peng, the former Chinese premier and current chairman of the National People's Congress and Li Ruihuan, chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference this evening. Li Peng is ranked number two in the Chinese hierarchy and the other Li is a very influential figure in Chinese politics as well.
Before leaving for the economic showpiece town of Dalian in northeast China on Wednesday morning, the President will meet China's Prime Minister Zhu Rongji at the famed Zhong Nan Hai estate in Beijing.
The President, an old China hand, did not want the usual itinerary chosen for leaders. Thus, instead of Shanghai and Guangdong, he opted for locations little known in India. Dalian is one of the first special economic zones set up by the Chinese government and its mayor Bo Xilai is often spoken of as a man to watch out for in his country's future.
Kunming, capital of the southern Yunnan province, is the city the Chinese have chosen as the centre of further trade with Bangladesh, Myanmar and India's northeast states.
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