ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Visit of Substance

Economics takes centre stage during Manmohan Singh’s visit to China. 

Prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China was lowkey but on the whole a substantive one. Compared to the charged ambience of the previous high-level meetings between the two countries in 2003, 2005 and 2006, this visit was not preceded by high expectations nor was there any attempt to project a grand “achievement-in-the-offing” by policymaking circles. That in itself may be seen as recognition of the considerable effort that is still required to resolve the outstanding issues between the two countries, as also an attempt to impart a certain normalcy to regular high-level interaction.

For the first time since the resumption of ties in 1976, the contentious border issue did not dominate the agenda of the India-China talks. The objective, it appeared, was to infuse substance into the 2005 Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity with the development of a dual approach. This would be first to restructure economic ties and second to put the seal, as it were, on the long-term nature of the relationship by the formulation of a shared vision for the 21st century, foregrounding the global and regional dimensions and the responsibilities of the two countries. This was plainly an outcome of a closer examination of the paradox in the relationship between India and China. On the one hand there is the noticeable broadening, deepening and multifaceted engagement between China and India and the remarkable increase of trade. There is, on the other, the low level of mutual trust and confidence, at a time when new political, economic and security challenges and opportunities are emerging.

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