India Abroad May 22, 2015 A19 INDIA SPECIAL/MODI IN CHINA
India’s ministry of external affairs Web site has a prop- aganda video in which it claims to get India-China relations to move from ‘inch to miles’.
The May 15 meeting between Prime Minister Narendra
There was unanimous belief about the importance of the
visit. ‘I am pleased to visit China in the first year of my
government. This is one of our most important strategic
partnerships,’ Modi said after meeting President Xi
Jinping in Xian, May 14.
Due to the historic baggage that both nations carry on
both sides of the Himalayas, Modi’s first visit to China
since becoming prime minister was seen with cautious
There was never a doubt that out of Modi’s more than a
dozen visits overseas, the one to China was the most
important. It had raised some hopes after Xi’s visit to
Ahmedabad last September, where ‘optics’ acquired a new
meaning in diplomacy.
Would the visit be as historic as Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to
China in 1988 or as significant as Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s
visit in 2003 when serious steps were taken to solve the
border dispute, when he and then Chinese prime minister
Wen Jiabao agreed to appoint exclusive representatives to
settle border disputes? Would Modi’s unilateral
announcement to grant e-visas to the Chinese really
change the template of bilateral relations?
The answer is evident.
Both sides played cautiously while moving forward, as
detailed in the joint statement issued after the delegation-level talks May 15.
It tells us that both sides want a deeper understanding
The vexatious border dispute between China and India
was obviously not on the table as the summit-level meet-
ing had a macro-focus and a wide ranging agenda. But a
lot is intertwined in the trust deficit arising from the bor-
der dispute between India and China.
Foreign Secretary Dr S Jaishankar, while briefing the
media after the talks between Modi and Li, said, ‘No time-
line is fixed on the border talks, the problem is too com-
plex and too serious to contemplate putting a deadline.’
push in Indo-China ties
Cautious, slow and steady diplomacy continues to remain in vogue between
the Asian giants, reports Sheela Bhatt.
Chinese residents take photographs of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China, May 14. REUTERS