Tags: border | standoff | china | india

Border Standoff Casts Shadow on China Xi's Visit to India

Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 07:17 AM

Indian and Chinese soldiers pulled back from a stand-off on a Himalayan plateau on Thursday, helping salvage the mood during a rare visit by China's President Xi Jinping to New Delhi aimed at opening a new phase in cooperation between Asia's giants.

Dozens of soldiers from both sides had faced off on the Ladakh plateau in the western Himalayas for over a week in a dispute about construction in the border region that threatened to overshadow Xi's talks with India's new prime minister, Narendra Modi.

"China and India paid great attention to the aforementioned border issue. After timely, effective communication, the relevant situation has already been appropriately brought under control," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in Beijing.

Both countries lay claim to vast tracts of territory and after two decades of talks are no closer to a resolution of a border dispute over which they went to war in 1962.

"There should be peace in our relations and in the borders. If this happens we can realize true potential of our relations," Modi said during a joint news conference.

Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said the new friction on the border had featured when Xi and Modi met for about two hours in New Delhi on Thursday.

"Let me assure you all these issues have been raised and issues of concern, including recent events, will continue to be discussed," he said in response to a question about the stand-off.

India and China are ramping up commercial ties and opening the way for Chinese investment in Indian infrastructure, including railways and industrial parks, with billions of dollars of investment pledges likely during Xi's trip.

Speaking at a welcoming ceremony at India's presidential palace, Xi emphasized the enormous potential of the world's two largest emerging powers working more closely together but acknowledged a need to "deepen mutual understanding."

"During this visit I hope to work with the Indian leadership to be strong advocates of China-India relations and to ... take our strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity to a higher plain," Xi told reporters after being met by a guard of honor.

Modi is keen on Chinese investment to help balance $65 billion in annual trade that is heavily tilted in China's favor. He is also seeking more access for India's IT services and pharmaceuticals to China.

M.D. Nalapat, who heads the department of geopolitics at India's Manipal University, said India's new government saw that working with China was 90 percent upside, and should not be undermined by the two countries differences.

"Modi is looking at an opportunity, and will not sacrifice it because of the 10 percent threat, Nalapat said in an article written for the Gateway House think tank.

"China needs India - as a market, as a source of trained manpower, and as a friendly neighbor. I believe that Xi has the ability to break through the negativism about India.

Even as images of Xi shaking hands with Indian ministers were broadcast, TV commentary focused on the border tension, and raked up sensitivities about China's support for India's arch-rival, Pakistan.

Another irritant for China is the presence in India of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who has lived in the north of the country since fleeing a failed uprising against Chinese rule of his homeland in 1959. A government of exiled Tibetans and tens of thousands of refugees are also based in India.

In one sign that India wanted the Xi visit to be a success, New Delhi asked the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing labels a dangerous separatist seeking an independent Tibet, to reschedule an event in the capital so that it would not clash with the Chinese president's trip.

About 20 supporters of a free Tibet, mainly women, protested within a few meters of the building in New Delhi where Modi and Xi were holding talks, waving Tibetan flags and shouting "We want justice." Police detained them after a few minutes.

Several other small pro-Tibet protests broke out across the city.

Speaking in India's financial center, Mumbai, the Dalai Lama said Xi should use his visit to learn from the Indian experience of democratic rule, and learn democratic practices.

"I think the Chinese president should learn some of India's experience," he said in a speech. "Democratic rule, rule of law, and free media."

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Indian and Chinese soldiers pulled back from a stand-off on a Himalayan plateau on Thursday, helping salvage the mood during a rare visit by China's President Xi Jinping to New Delhi aimed at opening a new phase in cooperation between Asia's giants. Dozens of soldiers from...
border, standoff, china, india
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2014-17-18
Thursday, 18 Sep 2014 07:17 AM
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