BY the past history whether the current visit turns out to be productive on a few pending issues, needs to be seen. Remember, the visit of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao in December 2010 to resolve the border dispute had not yielded any solution.
China is Asia’s powerhouse while India is Asia’s second largest market and a possible competitor to China. While the debate of India overtaking China is raked up in every economic forum, the truth is India is nowhere near China in terms of its economic or military might. As such China will remain dominant for years. However, due to its sheer size and growth potential, India cannot be ignored. Hence it is in the larger interest of the two countries that the Sino-India relationship is strengthened.
Thorny border issue...
While both countries realise the economic importance of working together and agree upon trade pacts, the long pending border issues without any amicable permanent solutions continue to haunt. The events in the last three months clearly highlight the ground reality – meeting of our prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh with Chinese president Xi Jinping at Durban in March 2013 wherein the latter suggested a five point formula for improving ties with India, Chinese intrusion into Ladakh in April 2013 and subsequent pull out during first week of May 2013. Whether it is lack of intent on the part of the two countries to resolve the issue or lack of courage to take up the matter due to resulting economic fallout are possible reasons for continuance of unresolved issues for decades.
India’s trade with China is lopsided, with imports from China accounting for nearly 12 per cent whereas the exports account for only 6 per cent of foreign trade. While imports have grown at 39 per cent, exports grew by only 24 per cent during 2011-12 over the previous year. With huge trade deficit, India is likely to remain concerned with its largest trading partner. Moreover, India is seeking better access to Chinese information technology and pharmaceutical markets which in turn will help reduce India’s wide trade deficit with Beijing.
The impact on the Chinese economy will be minimal which gives them the leeway to remain aggressive. China is emphasising its strong position, by strengthening links with our immediate neighbours: Sri Lanka (Tamil: issue is distancing India, paving way for China to gain strength), Bangladesh (post 2010 China has fostered new diplomatic ties), Nepal (through undertaking power projects), Maldives (opening of new embassy office in Male) and Pakistan, which has remained China’s strong ally for years.
Many in India advocate strong aggressive stance against China for their intrusion, handling of Tibet issue, construction of dams across Brahmaputra, support to Pakistan at various international levels... Prime Minister Manmohan Singh voiced India’s serious concern over the recent Chinese intrusion and its likely to fallout on the bilateral ties. India seems to accept the ground reality and grow alongside China, accepting it as the big brother .