BEIJING: In a delicate diplomatic waltz, after rolling out the red carpet for US President Barack Obama, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to visit China by May, underlining the new Indian leader’s foreign policy of multi-alignment, which entails forging closer ties with the world’s leading power centres.
India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is currently on a three-day trip to China, has told Indian journalists in Beijing that Mr Modi will visit China before the end of his first year in office. Government sources indicated that the visit is expected around April-early May.
This will be the first time the leaders of India and China would have visited each other’s country within less than a year, underscoring the strategic resolve of the two Asian giants to upgrade their relations to a qualitatively new level and to inject the much-needed stability in a multifarious relationship that sometimes tend to go off the track due to a decades-long unresolved boundary dispute.
Mapping Next Steps
Sushma Swaraj’s first trip to China as foreign minister has turned out to be quite productive and mapped the way forward for next steps in a critical relationship that both countries regard as crucial to peace and stability in the Asian hemisphere and to their ongoing national rejuvenation.
In her wide-ranging talks with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, Sushma Swaraj discussed an entire spectrum of bilateral and regional issues, including the review of investment proposals from China, steps to reduce trade deficit and promoting cultural and people-to-people contacts.
The boundary issue figured prominently in the talks. The talks brought out the shared desire and political will to resolve the boundary dispute that lie at the heart of tensions between Asia’s largest economies.
Sharing the outcomes of her talks, Sushma Swaraj said that the Chinese side agreed that the resolution of the boundary dispute should not be left to the next generation. She also stressed on the desire by both sides to try out “out-of-box thinking” to hammer out a final and enduring settlement of the boundary question. With the strong leadership in both New Delhi and Beijing, the minister stressed that both countries are committed to the boundary settlement at an early date.
All eyes on Modi visit to China
Swaraj’s visit has set the tone for Prime Minister Modi’s first visit to China later this year. The two sides have agreed to set up a contact group to ensure an outcome-driven visit, the minister said.
The focus on simultaneously scaling up relations with the US and China underlines the new foreign policy matrix of the Modi government, which means pushing the envelope to align India’s development agenda with the country’s external engagements.
Significantly, this will also be the first time two-way visits between the leaders of India and the US and India and China would have happened within a year, which underlines a new flexibility and pragmatism in India’s foreign policy.
(Manish Chand is Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network, www.indiawrites.org, an online magazine-journal focused on international affairs, the India Story and China. He is currently in Beijing to participate in the India-China Media Forum)
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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