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Winds of change may bring India, China closer
Anil K Joseph in Beijing | September 03, 2007 14:54 IST
China will 'vigorously' implement a bilateral agreement to upgrade Sino-India relations to strategic levels, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has said while hinting that Beijing [Images] is open to civilian nuclear energy cooperation with all countries under the IAEA safeguards, sources in Beijing said on Monday.
Yang, who met a joint delegation of members of the Eminent Persons Group on Friday, said he had been instructed by the Chinese leadership that Beijing will vigorously implement the strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and cooperation agreed upon by the two countries.
India and China had agreed to upgrade their bilateral relations to strategic levels during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India in April 2005.
"The Chinese foreign ministry will carry out this instruction to the best of its ability," Yang told the joint delegation of EPG members led by former Indian Ambassador to China C V Ranganathan and former Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Liu Shuqing respectively.
Yang also welcomed India's improving relations with the United States, Japan [Images] and other major powers. There were no negative remarks on the forthcoming naval exercises, senior Indian delegation sources told PTI before winding up their visit on Monday after a visit to the historic city of Xi'an in northwest China.
"I would say these were two essential points that were conveyed to the Indian side by the Chinese foreign minister," Ranganathan said.
The Chinese side did not raise the Indo-US nuclear issue during the two-day meeting of the EPG nor was there any sign of objection, contrary to the Chinese media presentations which had criticised the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal as bad for global nuclear non-proliferation.
Yang said that China is prepared to cooperate with all countries on peaceful nuclear energy based on International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
"More than this, the Chinese side never said anything," the source said, adding that the Indian side had a 'positive' assessment of their meeting with Yang.
The Chinese side also said they were looking forward to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's [Images] visit though no dates have been announced.
At the EPG meeting, the Indian side suggested that bilateral consultations should be more vigorous, making full use of the existing mechanisms including the security dialogue, foreign office consultations and strategic dialogue.
The Chinese side wanted India to accord Market Economy Status to China.
A representative from the Confederation of Indian Industries sought a level-playing field and explained about the difficulties faced by Indian companies to access China's huge agricultural commodities.
There is an urgent need to diversify India's trade basket to China. Both sides welcomed mutual investments. Since the Chinese project investment in India during 2006-07 period had grown significantly, there was no complaint as in the previous meetings, sources said.
In science and technology sector, both sides agreed that they should jointly study the effects of climate change and try and develop their own model on the complicated subject.
They also called for an inter-disciplinary dialogue on how the effects of climate change can be mitigated and adaptation technologies like clean coal could be adopted.
The meeting also called for steps to study how climate change affects the monsoon pattern and its impact on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
Much closer dialogue on river waters, especially on those rivers which rise in Tibet and flow through India, was also highlighted. There is exchange of hydrological data but something much more concrete should happen and experts from both sides should get together, the Indian delegates felt.
Further, it was pointed out that there exists a number of Memorandum of Understandings between the two countries in various fields and they need to be implemented vigorously.
The Indian side suggested that both sides should cooperate on distant education technologies through satellite. A link up between Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and Qinghua University was also mooted.
The meeting called for a series of seminars on the impact of economic change on culture and multi-cultural societies.