China ready to work with India on stapled visa

China ready to work with India on stapled visa

12 April 2011
The Daily Excelsior


BEIJING-NEW DELHI: On the eve of a key meeting between Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and President Hu Jintao, China today said it is 'ready to work' with India to deal with the controversial stapled visa issue. In Delhi, senior officials said there was some movement on the issue but India will have to wait and watch how things evolve. Replying to a question about whether the leaders will discuss issues concerning stapled visas and resumption of defence talks, Chinese Foreign Ministry official Hong Lie told a media briefing in Beijing that China is ready to solve issues relating to people to people exchanges. 'As for the issue you mentioned, China is ready to work with India to have friendly consultation and properly handle the issues relating to people to people exchanges in our bilateral relations,' Hong said. 'We are very confident about the prospect of bilateral relations,' he said. China was also willing to work with India on resumption of defence exchanges. Dr Singh and Hu will meet tomorrow in Sanya in China ahead of the BRICS summit. The statement comes in the backdrop of Beijing granting normal visas to four journalists born in Jammu & Kashmir, who are visiting Sanya in Hainan province to cover the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, (BRICS) summit beginning tomorrow. India called off defence exchanges last year after China refused visa to an Indian Army General B S Jaswal on the ground that he headed troops in Jammu and Kashmir. China had in 2008 started the practice of issuing visas on loose sheets of paper to people from Jammu and Kashmir, which was seen here as questioning India's sovereignty over the State. This had been an irritant in bilateral relations and the matter had snowballed into a major controversy last July after the Jaswal episode. Indian officials were cautiously optimistic that China may have decided to stop the practice, taking on board Indian concerns. They said the two countries will have to work quietly on this without making any announcements. Dr Singh had taken up the stapled visa issue with President Hu in Vietnam in October last year when they had met on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit. The issue was again raised in December with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao when he visited India. In a guarded response to Singh-Hu meeting at Sanya, Hong said 'we welcome Prime Minister's attendance at the BRICS leaders meeting. President Hu will have meeting with him to exchange views on bilateral relations as well as international and regional issues of common interest.' In recent years China-India relations have achieved a sound development with frequent exchanges and practical co-operation across the board, he said adding that 'we have maintained a close contact and communication on major international and regional issues.' He said this year is the year of exchanges between the two countries there would be a series of activities to increase mutual understanding and cooperation. 'We are very confident about the prospect of bilateral relations,' he said. Besides Hu, Dr Singh is scheduled to have bilateral meetings with the leaders of other BRICS countries. Meanwhile, indications emerged today that the two countries could be holding joint exercises in the near future. 'The joint exercises would be held,' a source said here when asked whether the military exercises will resume. The source pointed out that some level of defence contact like border flag meeting had always been maintained even after high-level military exchanges were suspended after the Northern Army Commander Lt Gen B S Jaswal was given a visa on a loose sheet because he was serving in the State. The sources pointed out that political and economic relations between India and China had been growing and that the borders were also calm. On the building of infrastructure by China along its borders with India, the sources said India was also doing so on its side of the border to catch up with its eastern neighbours. It was pointed out that 78 road projects were expected to be completed by India by 2012 and all but eight would be finished on time. The remaining eight will take a little longer. Dr Singh and Hu will meet in Sanya tomorrow and are expected to discuss furthering bilateral relations. In an interview to Chinese news agency Xinhua on the eve of the Summit which begins Thursday, the Prime Minister said he was confident that the two countries would surpass their bilateral trade target of 100 billion dollars by 2015, but this should be achieved along with reduction of trade deficit against India. He said that during Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India in December last year,the two countries had agreed to a series of measures to broadbase and balance their trade and economic cooperation. 'The peaceful development of India and China will strengthen BRICS as well as be good for the global economy,' he said. Replying to a question, he said the two Asian countries were the fastest growing economies with many common goals and they have to play a leading role in coordinating BRICS action in various fields. The two countries work together in various international fora on issues of common interest which include comprehensive and inclusive economic development, food and energy security, sustainable development, the Doha round of trade talks and reform of international financial institutions. 'BRICS countries have huge potential individually. We should aim to combine these strengths and pool them together,' he said. Dr Singh was of the view that the member countries continue to enhance coordination on major issues such as the nature of the world economy, a democratic and equitable world order, global governance reform and issues like food and energy security and climate change. Replying to a question on the future of BRICS, which comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, the Prime Minister said BRICS was a relatively new grouping, and the contours of their cooperation were in the process of evolution. 'We have however done well despite being such a young grouping,' he added. He said the BRICS countries should use the opportunity provided by the presence of all the member countries on the UN Security Council to shape and guide the international discourse on issues of importance to them. When asked what he expected from the upcoming summit at Sanya, in terms of pushing forward the cooperation among BRICS nations, Dr Singh said he was very happy that the Summit was taking place for the first time in Asia, and in the fastest growing economy of the world. 'We have a substantive agenda for the Summit. This includes discussions on the international situation, international economic and financial issues, development and sectoral cooperation. I look forward to reviewing the decisions we took at the last G-20 Summit in Seoul,' he said. The Prime Minister said the BRICS countries should build upon cooperation and exchanges through meetings of Foreign Ministers, Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, Agriculture Ministers, National Statistical Authorities and other sectors which touch upon the economic well-being of their people and suggested that they could share experiences on the management of large urban cities and also enhance dialogue and exchanges among their civil societies, media, businesses, scholars and youth. Dr Singh pointed out that a number of meetings on the sidelines of the Summit, including those of the Trade and Economic Ministers, Business Forum and BRICS Development Banks, were being organised. Moreover, he said, a meeting of BRICS Think Tanks has already taken place. 'All these will certainly help in giving more concrete shape to our cooperation'. On the inclusion of South Africa in the grouping, he said 'South Africa is a valued friend and partner of India. It is a large and vibrant economy and plays an important role in global affairs. Its presence will lend weight to BRICS and introduce the African perspective to the burning issues of our times. India, therefore, warmly welcomes South Africa's membership of BRICS.' 'If we as the BRICS can contribute to the development of Africa, and articulate its priorities in international forums, this would benefit not just Africa but the entire world,' he added. (AGENCIES)


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