Sino-Indian relations unchanged

The first visit by an Indian prime minister to China in a decade produced some impressive rhetoric, but no major breakthrough in ties between the world’s two most populous nations, analysts said.

    Unreasonable to expect one visit
    to change 40 years of suspicion

    The visit by Atal Behari Vajpayee did not "change the underlying dynamics of the India-China relationship", according to foreign policy analyst Gopalaswami  Parthasarathy, a former senior Indian diplomat. 

    Nevertheless, with both nations making concessions on contentious border issues and moving towards greater trade between the two neighbours, a long-frozen relationship is now thawing, he said.
    India, for the first time, accepted in writing that Tibet was part of China, an issue dear to Beijing. China agreed to open trade through disputed Sikkim, a Himalayan state annexed by New Delhi in 1975.
    And while Beijing insisted that did not mean acceptance of Indian sovereignty over Sikkim, Chinese analyst Sun Shihai called it "indirect" recognition.

    These were small but significant advances for the two countries which fought a brief border war in 1962, leaving ties in tatters for decades until the territorial disputes were effectively put on one side in the late 1980s.
    That reduced tension along the 3,500 km border which runs the length of the Himalayas through some of the world's most inhospitable land.
    Now, one of the agreements signed in Beijing appoints special envoys to sort out the border mess, both of them powerful figures in their governments.
    "We will go beyond a peaceful and tranquil border to a step further: a border where there can be trade and tourism," said Parthasarathy.
    Trade door opens 

    Indian businessmen, who have only recently started to examine China's booming market, will be thrilled if this prediction proves accurate, said Dr Bhaumik, economic adviser to the Confederation of Indian Industry.
    "It is a significant breakthrough economically as well as politically," he said. "It is great encouragement for Indian companies investing in China and a great confidence booster."
    Even so, analysts on both sides said no one should get carried away.
    Lack of mutual trust still exists and "is an obstacle to the healthy development of China-Indian relations", said Sun, a South Asia expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
    "It is impossible for the two countries to establish total mutual trust through just one visit," Sun said.
    Parthasarathy added: "We should not get carried away by the hype surrounding this visit.”
    "We have to see if the Chinese are now more responsible on the issue of nuclear and missile proliferation," he said, referring to Indian charges of Chinese help for Pakistan’s nuclear arms programme. Beijing denies these accusations.
    Indian analysts said Vajpayee had been hoping for help from China, a long-time friend of Pakistan, in efforts to forge peace between New Delhi and Islamabad.
    But while China has moved away from uncritical backing of Islamabad, whose President Pervez Musharraf met US President George Bush on Tuesday, "China will not abandon Pakistan because it is developing relations with India," Sun said.

    SOURCE: Unspecified


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