Beijing and New Delhi will try to boost efforts to forge stronger ties when the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visits India on 8 June, the first meeting of Chinese and Indian officials after the new Indian government was sworn in.
China is pressing for Indian cooperation in the construction of a regional economic corridor and the revival of the ancient Silk Road. India’s outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had expressed India’s willingness to participate in the new Silk Road economic belt.
“China and India, both civilizations with long histories and the world’s largest developing countries and emerging markets, are natural cooperative partners,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had said in a telephone call with his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi after the latter’s swearing in.
China and India alongwith two other Asian neighbours have already established an inter-governmental body last December to help build a Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor.
Beijing and New Delhi have set a trade target of $100 billion by 2015.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said he can not confirm if the Chinese Foreign Minister would be meeting the Indian Prime Minister during his visit but confirmed Wang would meet his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on his two-day trip as a special envoy of China’s President Xi Jinping.
The two countries have taken positive measures in maintaining peace and stability on the border in recent years, and signed a landmark border accord last year.
China and India share a 2,000-km-long border that has never been formally delineated. The two countries began discussing border issues in the 1980s.
The major challenges faced by the new Indian government formed by the Bharatiya Janata Party would be to strike a balance between its overtures to Tokyo and the consolidation of growing goodwill with Beijing.
Saeed Naqvi, Indian journalist and foreign policy expert calls this the new eastern “love triangle”.
“The love triangle featuring Japan, China and India is being watched with keen interest by the West even as the US pivots to Asia,” Naqvi told The BRICS Post.
Indian media has reported extensively on the personal friendship shared by the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe, a development that would be closely watched by China. Modi’s first foreign visit after the 6th BRICS Summit in Brazil is expected to be Japan.
China and Japan are dealing with a diplomatic fallout after the Japanese prime minister infuriated China and South Korea by visiting a shrine that honours Japan’s war dead, including many convicted war criminals.
China and Japan are also embroiled in a number of disputes over territory in the East China Sea.
Meanwhile, Indian minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh has said last week he would increase Indian forces on the China-India border, a move that could threaten relations with the Asian giant.
“The ministry is planning to increase the number of troops guarding the border. It is also preparing a roadmap to improve infrastructure along the border to match the strength of China,” said a report in the Indian daily Times of India.
Chinese news organisations have been critical of Indian media’s “sensational reporting” on the border issue which they have said is “harmful to the China-India relationship”.
China’s Xinhua agency in an editorial in July last year said: “Such reports have only served to further sow misunderstandings between Indians and Chinese even at a time when their leaders are working hard to manage their differences and to build a constructive relationship that can benefit both sides.”