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'India NOT nervous in dealing with China'

By Sheela Bhatt
March 23, 2013 13:33 IST
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India looks forward to the first meet between Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and China's new Premier Xi Jinping's in Durban on March 27 on the sidelines of the BRICS summit. The next week is important for Sino-India bilateral relations, says Sheela Bhatt.

On the sidelines of the fifth summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), to be held at Durban in South Africa on March 26 and 27, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, for the first time, will meet China’s new Premier Xi Jinping.

This first meeting will set the tone of a fresh beginning of the new Chinese leader with India. The change of leadership in China is a major event not just for Asia, but the whole world.

A senior government official, while briefing on the meet in an off-the-ecord conversation, told that India looks forward to the Durban meet with Jinping.

“We can’t say anything beforehand, but it’s an important first meeting. Let’s see how it goes,” he said. 

As these are interesting times when Asia is holding forth global economic health, Africa is attracting vigorous attention of the world, and America is coming to senses after failure of their war adventures, significance of the India and China's meeting can't be undermined. 

The senior official, who has been dealing with the issue, told, “I can say that India is confident of managing its relations with China. We have moved forward since the 1998 visit of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to China. The border issue has been set aside since then, and other issues have seen forward movement. We must note that our borders are most peaceful.”

But, if you ask more, the officer offers nuances saying that India understands it is not an easy relationship, and one has to deal with China as it comes.

That realisation has always been kept in mind. 

When asked how Jinping and Dr. Singh’s visit is likely to go, he said, “When the leadership changes, only the style changes. We look at the substance in diplomatic relationships. As I said earlier, we can deal with China. We are not nervous. India knows it can manage this relationship.”

He discounted the change in the leadership in some ways, saying ‘style (new leadership of China) is not the issue’.

 He, added, “Jinping is a cheerful personality. He is quite relaxed and informal. He, even cracks jokes sometimes.”

The official also pointed out while talking about Jinping’s rise to the highest office, “After coming to power, he wrote a letter to the Indian prime minister. In a first of its kind act, he gave interviews and narrated his vision of bilateral relations.”

In a letter written to Dr Singh earlier this year, Jinping had talked about how ‘the world has enough space for China and India to achieve common development, and the world also needs common development’.

On eve of his meeting with Dr Singh, Jinping elaborated further his vision of the bilateral relation while proposing five steps template. 

The agency report has quoted him talking about the bilateral relation where Xi said, “We would maintain strategic communication and keep bilateral relations on the right track. Second, we should harness each other’s comparative strength and expand awin-win cooperation in infrastructure, mutual investment and other areas. Third, we should strengthen cultural ties and constantly increase mutual understanding and friendship between our peoples. Fourth, we should expand coordination and collaboration in multilateral affairs to jointly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries and tackle global challenges.”

“Fifth, we should accommodate each other’s core concerns and properly handle problems and differences existing between the two countries,” the Chinese President said on eve of his meet with Dr Singh.

His narrative suggests that new Chinese leader will broadly continue with the emphasis on economic relations and will keep the relation on track while maintaining the strategic communication lines open.

The setting in Durban suits the mood as India believes that, “BRICS is the new growth pole which is not anti-west.” said the senior officer. 

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Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi
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