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Home > News > Report

PM 'satisfied' with China visit

Nikhil Lakshman aboard Air India One | January 15, 2008 23:23 IST

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Engaging India is a historical necessity and in China's interest, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] said on Tuesday, explaining the reasons for the desire to improve India-China relations at the highest levels of the Chinese leadership. "Just as engaging China is a historical necessity for us and in our interest."

"If India is strong economically, politically, socially, the world respects you more and more," Dr Singh added. "More and more countries realise that engaging India is in their interest."

The prime minister said he returns to India firm with the belief that the Chinese leadership at the highest level wants to give a thrust to the India-China strategic relationship. "I am very satisfied with outcome of my visit," Dr Singh said, clearly pleased at what he had achieved during his three-day maiden journey to Beijing [Images].

"I have had a constructive and very productive visit," he said. "All the meetings I had with Chinese leaders were characterised by frankness and great warmth. As I see it, this visit marks the maturity of the process of strategic cooperation and peace that we began in April 2005." 

He revealed that he had "very detailed discussions" on the boundary issue with the Chinese leaders, which he said both sides recognised as a "complex and complicated" issue.

"Both sides realise it will take time to resolve this issue," he said, but wanted "peace and tranquility" to be maintained on the border in accordance with the agreements already in place, even as the prime ministerial emissaries accelerate their efforts to work out an agreed framework to find a solution.

"They (the Chinese leadership) have the political will just as we have the political will to resolve this issue," he added.

Much of the discussions the prime minister had with the Chinese leaders focused on the economy, especially the likelihood of a recession in the West. Dr Singh said both India and China feel they must maintain their "solid growth" in the face of the uncertainty in the world economy and fears of recession in the Western economies because it would benefit not only both countries, but "also Asia and the world."

The prime minister felt India was unlikely to be affected by a global economic meltdown. "India's economy is propelled by domestic demand," he said, "and if domestic demand grows, there is a good chance that we will not be affected by world trends."   

The ferment in Pakistan, the prime minister revealed, came up during his discussions with the Chinese leaders, especially President Hu Jintao. The Chinese leadership, he said, is concerned with the situation in Pakistan, and was shocked by Benazir Bhutto's [Images] assassination.

Both nations are also in sync on the issue of climate change, especially the fact that these concerns should not "seek to perpetuate the poverty of developing countries who should not be victims of the environmental degradation" committed by the developing world.

"The gains are incremental," the prime minister conceded, alluding to the language that clarifies China's support for India's membership of the United Nations Security Council in the vision document that he and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao issued on Monday. But, he said, "The language that has been used is an improvement on the previous one, and clearly a step forward on an expanded UN Security Council."