New areas of collaboration include the Railways, industrial parks and reciprocal arrangements to be made so that India and China can expand business
India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, has begun her four-day visit to China in preparation for the proposed China visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, scheduled for May. Her first stop-over, interestingly, began with Kunming, the capital of Yunan province, which has strategic significance. This will connect Kolkata, as the terminating point of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, a part of the Maritime Silk Road (MSR), which India is negotiating with China for participation.
It may be remembered that China promoted Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, with India's staunch support, is most likely to be used for funding the Maritime Silk Road projects. Currently, however, there is the under current and bitterness, reciprocal in the sense, that while India does not like Chinese submarine visits to both Sri Lanka and Maldives, China resents the joint exploration bid by India-Vietnam in ‘South China Sea’!
Sushma Swaraj has been meeting Wang Li, her Chinese counterpart, and has confirmed that PM Narendra Modi will visit China before 26th May. She is reported to have said, that, “India remains committed to an 'early settlement' of 'border issues' and also expects during Modi's visit agreements may be reached to have an additional route to Mansarovar, a Hindu pilgrimage located in Tibet. PM Modi himself may take this visit as an opportune time to take the trip to Mansarovar!”
Earlier, India had proposed a new route to Mansarovar from Natula pass in Sikkim, and this may begin by June 2015, and China agreed to this but had stated that ‘infrastructure’ needs to be built for making this possible.
Unfortunately, as this friendly discussions are going on in Beijing, Xiaomi, the Chinese Smartphone manufacturer, ‘inadvertently’ reignited a century old geopolitical dispute between India and China, by their Hugo Barra showing maps of India including Aksai Chin and Arunachal Pradesh as ‘disputed’. It may be noted that Xiaomi sells 100,000 headsets a week and considers India as hugely important and saying that ‘we are here to stay’! Due to the poor reaction from Indian customers, this was ‘deleted’ but not before being ‘saved’. This could be ‘viewed’ in Yahoo.
In the meantime, while addressing the India-China Media Forum, Sushma Swaraj, reiterated the close development partnership envisaged by President Xi Jinping during his recent visit to India symbolises the 'resolve' to enhance economic ties. New areas of collaboration are to include the Railways, industrial parks and reciprocal arrangements to be made so that India and China can expand business. India has a $38-billion deficit in a $70-billion bilateral trade!
Sushma Swaraj is reported to have launched a ‘2015 visit India year’ in China, by tourism to promote people to people understanding as this plays a vital international role.
It is hoped that this does not include Chinese troops ‘inadvertently’ crossing into Indian territory! Such ‘visits’ happened even during the President Xi Jinping's visit to India. Sushma Swaraj announced a six-point proposal to jointly realise with Beijing the dream of an ‘Asian Century’. But, what are the main things that our PM Narendra Modi must have in his agenda, during his forthcoming visit to China? He must show India's willingness to:
a) whole-heartedly support the Silk Road, Maritime Silk Road, Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank
b) willingness to support the use of national currency in bilateral trade to reduce the dependence on the dollar
c) encourage joint ventures in both countries on a reciprocal basis
d) resolve the question of border disputes within an agreed time frame
e) agree to a no-war pact PROVIDED China agrees to:
(i) return Aksai Chin and other areas illegally ceded by Pakistan, back to India
(ii) tourism does not include military personnel or air space violation by Chinese forces
(iii) whole-heartedly supports India's entry into the UN Security Council as a permanent member and does not propose Pakistan's entry
(iv) to set up manufacturing units to support ‘Make in India’; also facilitates entry of Indian business to set up operations in China
(v) to set up a steel mill in Goa to be able to use low grade iron ore, obtain high grade from India or outside like Brazil or Australia, and export the finished steel either back to China or export anywhere
(vi) refrain from arming Pakistan in any manner, particularly, in the nuclear field
Unless China shows that it is truly keen to have India's friendship and support by doing the above, it is very difficult to continue this ‘touch and go’ diplomacy.
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce. He was also associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)