People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 20, 2008
Indian PM's Visit To China: Towards Global Multi Polarity
By all accounts prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the People’s Republic of China was highly successful and has positively contributed towards carrying forward the improvement of relations between the two Asian giants. Apart from the main document titled, “A shared vision for the 21st Century”, 10 other bilateral agreements were signed including Memorandum of Understanding on diverse sectors from Railways, Housing, Land Resources, Cultural Exchanges, Geo-sciences Development, Traditional Medicines, Agriculture and Exports of Indian tobacco to China. In addition to these agreements, there was also a determined expression to intensify high level political exchanges between the two countries in the future. China has invited Indian president to visit in 2009 while India has extended invitation to the chairman of China’s National Peoples Congress to visit India this year itself. The foreign ministers of both countries will exchange visits later this year.
Elsewhere in this issue is a detailed report of PM’s visit by a senior member of the Peoples Democracy - Lok Lahar Editorial collective who accompanied the prime minister as part of the media delegation. The joint document outlines the Indo China shared vision by covering various aspects including common positions on a range of global issues such as WTO, Climate Change etc., while highlighting the issues of bilateral relations such as the possibility of commencing of discussions on regional trade agreement, Chinese support to India’s greater role in the United Nations Security Council and bilateral cooperation in civil nuclear energy.
This document, however, has not indicated any major breakthrough on the Sino Indian border dispute. The document states that both sides will work for, “A fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution” on the basis of the political parameters and guiding principles announced in 2005. All those who seek the improvement of relations between these two giants would be disappointed at this. What is important to understand, however, is that while continuing the dialogue on the border dispute both the countries appear to have converged on the understanding that cooperation in other fields must proceed and be strengthened. It needs to be recollected that it took China more than seven decades to resolve its border dispute with the former USSR and today’s Russia.
In this context must be seen the component of strengthening economic ties between the two countries. More than 300 members of the Chinese government and business communities gathered at a summit along with the high power business delegation that accompanied the prime minister. The earlier target of the bilateral trade of US$40 billion to be achieved by 2010 was already reached by 2007. On this visit both sides announced a new target of US$60 billion by 2010. That the bilateral trade has grown so rapidly despite many restrictions, given security considerations in itself shows the tremendous potential of economic cooperation between Indian and China. There is now bound to be a serious rethink in India on the question of visa restrictions and the black listing of certain Chinese companies even after they have qualified global tenders as it happened in the offshore seaport in Kerala. In this context, it is instructive to note the economic relations between China and Taiwan. Peoples Republic of China having succeeded in reintegrating Hong Kong and Macau with the mainland is seeking to do so similarly with Taiwan, which it considers as an integral part of China. In spite of this position and its consequent irritants in political, diplomatic and military spheres, Taiwan remains an important economic partner, both in terms of trade and investment, with China.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this visit has been the enlargement of the canvas on which improvement of relations is being sought. There has been a new found sharing of concerns at the developments in Pakistan and the readiness to work together to meet the consequent threats of terror. The most important, however, appears to be the recognition that stronger economic relationship between India and China could well move the centre of economic gravity of the world towards Asia. This recognition in itself will go a long way in the movement towards global multi polarity. Having said this, it must be emphasised that both India and China were categoric by stressing in the vision document that, “India-China relations are not targeted at any country” nor will this affect their friendship with other countries.
By all counts, apart from the unprecedented importance given to this visit in the Chinese media (both state-run television channels broadcast prime minister’s speech at the “Chinese Academy of Social Sciences” live) this visit has taken forward both the improvement of bilateral relations well as the joint role that both the countries ought to play in international affairs. It is clearly in the mutual interests of both India and China to carry forward this process.