Millennium Post

Elephant and dragon make a good team!

With the new Chinese Premier Li Keqiang likely to visit India in May, Sino-Indian ties may get a boost. Li’s visit will most probably be followed by a reciprocal gesture by prime minister Manmohan Singh to Beijing this June, the logistics of which are being finalised at present. This flurry of frequent consultations at the top level may result in several confidence building measures (CBMs) between the two countries. In addition, this could also contribute in improving ties in matters such as defence and increasing coordination on regional challenges, which may take the relationship to a new level. There has already been some progress this year, which saw the resumption of military exchanges between the two countries as well as an agreement on joint military exercises. Besides, the two countries held a dialogue on counter-terrorism as well, building upon the several CBMs of last year, with consultations on Afghanistan to be held later his month.  A significant CBM the two countries are working on at present is a hotline between the prime ministers of the two countries. Manmohan Singh has already met the new Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Durban last month. Underlining the importance that China has begun to give to improving ties with India, prior to this meeting, Xi Jinping unveiled a five point formula to improve ties with India. The first among these was that China and India should maintain strategic communication and keep the bilateral relations on the ‘right track’. In addition, he had suggested that the two countries harness each other’s comparative strengths and expand win-win cooperation in infrastructure, mutual investment and other areas as well.

It is significant that Manmohan Singh was the first international leader that Li Keqiang spoke to on the assumption of the premiership, which again underlines the priority which Beijing has begun to give to improving ties with India. Other than improved economic cooperation, Beijing is keen to push for better relations with India in the face of increased tensions from its eastern neighbours such as Japan over the disputed East China Sea and Vietnam and the Philippines over the South China Sea. This is not to suggest that the tensions over the border dispute with India are over. The border dispute remains complex yet the two countries seen to be putting it on the backburner, agreeing to maintain peace in the border areas while working to preventing the issue from affecting the overall development of bilateral relations. This may be the best step forward to improving the ties between the two countries.
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