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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2583

Modi-Jinping summit in Delhi, face off in Himalayas

By Malladi Rama Rao
New Delhi 20 Septembert (Asiantribune.com)

Meeting at a time when there was the “usual” face off at the border, Indian Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping gave the go ahead to deepening of economic ties between the two Asian giants.

The Chinese leader promised an investment of some $20 billion over the next five years into India’s infrastructure sector, particularly Modi’s favourite bullet trains project.

At present China’s cumulative investment in India is less than $500 million even as China enjoys a $30-plus billion yearly trade surplus with India. Greater access to Indian pharmaceuticals and farm products to China's market has been promised.

Both sides also agreed to talks on civil nuclear energy cooperation which will culminate in India buying Chinese N reactors as a part of its drive to overcome power crunch.

N-power at present accounts for just 3 percent of India’s energy output; several countries from the US to France and Russia to Japan and Australia have lined up to tap Indian market amidst Modi government plans to buy 30 reactors to take the installed N-capacity from 4,780 MW at present to 63,000MW by 2032.

China has been supplying N-reactors to Pakistan.

As expected at the outset, the Xi Jinping visit marked the opening of a new motorable land route for Indians travelling to Kailash Manasarovar in Tibet. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministries of External Affairs of India and China signed allows for the opening of the new route through the Nathula pass in Sikkim. It will be in addition to the Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand through which the yatra currently takes place.

Modi was happy. “The new route offers many benefits. It makes Kailash Manasarovar accessible by a motorable road, which is especially beneficial for older pilgrims. It offers a safer alternative in the rainy season, makes the pilgrimage shorter in duration and will enable a much higher number of pilgrims to go there”.

More than the handshake and pledges of co-operation that have a symbolism that is unmistakable, the face off at the border attracted much media attention, and figured at the 90-minute meeting the two leaders held at the historic Hyderabad House.

Appearing before the media along with Xi Jinping, Modi said, he had “raised serious concern” over repeated incidents along the border, and made it clear that for mutual trust speedy border demarcation is essential.

“I also suggested that clarification of LAC would greatly contribute to our efforts to maintain peace and tranquillity and requested President Xi to resume the stalled process of clarifying the LAC”, Prime Minister Modi said.

He added: ““We agreed that peace and tranquillity in the border region constitutes an essential foundation for mutual trust and confidence and for realizing the full potential of our relationship,” Indian premier stated.

Xi called for “friendly consultation” to resolve disputes, which he said would take time, and added that both countries had mechanisms in place to make sure boundary problems don't affect bilateral ties.

By late Wednesday there were two flag meetings at the local commanders’ level to defuse the situation in Chumar and Demchok area. The Chinese want to build a road right up to the Drongmar ridge line that defines the border and they are insisting that the Indians to vacate a post named 30R that gives the troops a clear view of Chinese military movements.

Two months ago also, there was a face-off between Indian and Chinese troops at the same place in Chumar but it was resolved by local commanders.

Analysts point out that Chinese troop intrusion and consequent face off on the border recurs every time a top Chinese leader visits Delhi. Last year, for instance, when the Chinese Primer Li Keqiang visited India, the PLA soldiers intruded deep inside and the face-off continued for almost a month.

Just when Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in New Delhi, China's PLA moved more than 1000 troops in the Chumar region. In order to halt them, Indian Army too, deployed its 1,500 troops in the region and the two armies were in an eyeball-to-eyeball position.

The message seems to be that notwithstanding economic ties, China will not be swayed when it comes to its territorial claims, as strategic expert Brahma Chellaney puts.

Significantly, neither side has fired a single shot during such face offs. This is largely because of the landmark agreement signed during P V Narasimha Rao’s visit to Beijing in 1993. Described as “the mot ground breaking of post-1962 interactions” Rao and his Chinese host Li Peng had agreed on keeping the borders peaceful and tranquil.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in Beijing that the incident along the border “has been effectively controlled with immediate effect” and “managed”.
Echoing President Xi Jinping, he added: “China hopes to continue to work with the Indian side to safeguard peace and tranquillity in the border area and solve the border issue through consultation and dialogue.”

Sonia Manmohan Meet Jinping

Along with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi met the Chinese leader at his hotel suit.

She told Xi Jinping that there is broad consensus in India across the political spectrum, to strengthen the relationship with China. And also spoke about the historic relationship between her Congress party and the Communist Party of China.

The Chinese president expressed happiness at the growth in bilateral ties and said economic engagement was important for both the countries to remain meaningfully engaged.

But the Congress spokesman, Salman Khursheed, a former foreign minister, however, took pot shots at the government remarking that the message of “border violations by Beijing” has not gone down very clearly in the discussions.

“Though China has, in principle, responded positively on the border issue, there is a gap between aspirations and fulfilment which is a matter of concern”, he remarked.

“The sad thing”, he went on to say, “is that this visit is being projected as enormously successful even while the visit was taking place, there were unfortunate incidents of intrusion into Indian territories”.

Khursheed also ticked off the Modi government for “keeping Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju out of the talks” with the Chinese leader.

Rijiju hails from Arunachal Pradesh over which China lays claim; he is also a trenchant critic of Chinese claims.

“''He (Kiren Rijiju should have been in the forefront of the talks. Instead, he was pushed to the background”, Khurshid remarked

- Asian Tribune

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi with the Chinese President, Mr. Xi Jinping and the First Lady of the Republic of China, Ms. Peng Liyuan, at Sabarmati Waterfront, in Ahmedabad, Gujarat on September 17, 2014.-
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