External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has just had her first detailed discussions with her Chinese counterpart Foreign Minister Wang Yi. Foreign Minister Wang Yi is here in New Delhi as the Special Envoy of the President of China.
These talks come in the wake of the Chinese PM Li Keqiang being the 1st foreign leader to talk to our PM after he had assumed office. So in essence we have had 2 high level conversations between India and China in about a fortnight.
The talks were described “cordial and useful, comprehensive covering all important issues, substantive and productive.”
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the new Indian Government had injected new vitality into an ancient civilization. He said that the international community was closely following developments in India; the Chinese and dreams have a lot of commonalities; China welcomes the development of India; China supports the development of India; China is ready to engage with the new Government of China
Useful, as the engagement is within a fortnight of a new Government in India assuming office in India. It is a high level engagement and provided a good opportunity for the External Affairs to understand the contours of engagement between India and China and the potential that exists in the relationship.
Very useful also since this was the first engagement there was discussion of the possible opportunities for engagement during the course of the year at high levels – both in terms of bilateral visits to each other’s country and meetings on the margins of various multilateral/ plurilateral meetings that leaders from both our countries are likely to participate.
In a sense the process of drawing up a calendar of potential engagements during the year. Obviously this is only the start of the process, so I cannot share with you details at this stage but can say that the potential exists for intensive engagements of our leaderships. By our count if we take the possible engagements likely between our senior leader ship and that of China I could easily say that there are likely to be at least half a dozen such meetings. By senior leadership I mean President, Vice-President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in so far as the foreign policy matters are concerned.
Comprehensive and Substantive
China is a neighbour with who we share a long border. Our neighbourhood as you are aware is a major focus of the Government’s diplomatic engagement. China is also a major economy and our bilateral economic ties are of a significant magnitude. The perennials of India- China engagement are well known to you so I will not list them in a detailed manner but would like to say that all issues of significance were raised and discussed in a frank manner.
Even while there was a determination to add new content and substance to the relationship, there was an understanding that respect for the sensitivities and aspirations of each other was an essential for expansion of bilateral relations.
There was also a fairly long discussion on economic issues. These included specific projects, trajectory of economic ties, potential for tapping opportunities as well as the hurdles being faced in pursuing enhanced economic cooperation.
Finally there was also a discussion on people to people exchanges – these included Kailash Mansarovar, the project about the Encyclopaedia of India-China Cultural Contacts etc.
Apart from bilateral matters as two important countries with growing interests in the region and beyond there were discussions on several issues where both India and China have interests.
Given the range of issues discussed and the intensive nature of these discussions as well as the cordial atmosphere in which these were discussed in our view this was a very productive beginning but as the Chinese saying goes the journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step and that step was taken today between the new Government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Chinese Government.