Ahead of Foreign Minister Wang’s India visit, China stresses on ‘consensus’

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(Last Updated On: August 10, 2016)

Ahead of the visit of its Foreign Minister, China on Tuesday said it intends to send across a message to India to insulate the basic framework of Sino-Indian ties, as defined by the two leaderships, from the occasional bouts of friction that hamper engagement between the two countries.

In a statement, underscoring the bottom- line of expectations in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said that during his visit to India this week, Foreign Minister Wang Yi will “communicate with the Indian side about how to carry forward consensus between the two leaders and enhance mutually beneficial cooperation in different fields in a bid to make sure that the relationship will keep growing as planned”.

The Chinese side has insisted during earlier situations of frostiness, including the acrimony surrounding India’s membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), that the established blueprint visualised during the visits of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India in 2014, and the return visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China last year, should remain immune from disruption. “China and India have identical strategic goals and their common interests far outweigh differences,” Ms. Hua observed. She added: “China-India relationship has been developing fast and sound in all aspects following President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in 2014 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China last year.”

Chinese state media also pitched in on Tuesday to suggest that India-China ties should focus on amplifying their economic agenda, which requires urgent attention. “India’s exports to China have dropped 16.7 percent year-on-year in the first seven months of the year, Chinese customs data showed on Monday, suggesting that a large number of Indian enterprises are having a hard time exploring the Chinese market amid simmering tensions between the two countries,” a write-up in a state-run tabloid Global Times observed.

The article also found India’s focus on the controversial South China Sea issue “puzzling”. It emphasised that the move “might risk unnecessary side effects to Sino-Indian ties and potentially set up obstacles for Indian exporters”.

In a conversation with The Hindu, Liu Zongyi of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies stressed that “geo-economics rather than geopolitics,” should rule India-China ties. “With India resolving the General Sales Tax (GST) issue, Chinese companies will now have more opportunities to invest. We cherish these opportunities,” he observed.

Long Xingchun, Director of Center of India Studies, China West Normal University told The Hindu that the two countries need to establish a comprehensive China-India strategic and economic dialogue, that would synergise the economic and security tracks of the relationship on the lines of a similar arrangement between Beijing and Washington.

Some Chinese scholars highlight India’s visa policy towards journalists, scholars and business people as an unnecessary and outdated roadblock, that is out of sync with the current demands of the relationship. “It is sad that just before Mr. Wang’s visit, India decided to expel three Chinese journalists. That is a step that

dilutes China’s efforts to bring China-India ties back on track after the NSG episode,” says Han Hua, director for Arms Control and Disarmament at Peking University.

A separate article that appeared in the Global Times on Tuesday also underscored that India’s GST reform has “galvanised waves of optimism among business communities across China”, but getting a quick business visa remains problematic. “Unlike non-work tourism visas that can be issued promptly via the e-visa system, most other types of visa must go through the tedious process.”

Many academics anticipated that Mr. Wang’s visit could only result in a modest achievement. “The Foreign Minister’s visit would be helpful in the improvement of the relations to some extent; especially in correcting some of the negative public opinion in the two countries,” observed Professor Long.

But he also underscored that unchallenged and deep-seated perceptions have been significantly responsible for imparting a poor image to Sino-Indian ties. “In India, there is a wrongful perception that China has adopted a policy of containment and encirclement. This seriously distorts China’s image and can lead to needless miscalculations,” he observed.

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