India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj held wide-ranging talks with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Asean Foreign Ministers meeting in Naypyitaw on August 9.
“The two reviewed the movement of bilateral relations since then [June],” Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry, said after the meeting. Wang Yi had visited India in June, the first foreign minister to visit the country after the Narendra Modi government took charge in New Delhi.
The two ministers are understood to have discussed a cluster of bilateral and global issues with a view to pushing the India-China relations into a higher trajectory. They exchanged notes on the forthcoming visit of the Chinese president to India, which is expected to take place around mid-September. The focus was on firming up concrete deliverables for the summit meeting between Mr Modi and Mr Xi in New Delhi. The Chinese president is expected to come to India soon after Mr Modi’s visit to Japan and before the Indian prime minister leaves for the US in the last week of September.
Expanding economic cooperation, specially in the arena of infrastructure, topped the agenda. “China-India relationship is embracing a new phase of opportunity,” said China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement. The ministry added that the two sides “should make thoughtful preparations for high-level mutual visits and inject new impetus to bilateral relations.”
The statement underlined the focus on “expanding practical cooperation in railways, industrial parks, trade, investment and other key areas, create new bright spots in people-to-people and cultural exchanges and deepen cooperation in international and regional affairs.”
India-China economic relations are burgeoning, but a massive trade deficit of around $40 billion has been a cause of recurrent concern in India. The Chinese side has assured to address India’s concerns by stepping up Chinese investment in infrastructure and manufacturing sectors in India. China has also indicated its willingness to address India’s long-standing demand to grant Indian IT and pharma companies access to the Chinese market. India is expecting some concrete announcements in these areas during Xi’s September visit to Delhi.
The stability in the Asian hemisphere was another key subject that figured in Swaraj-Wang discussions. “China and India, the two biggest developing countries who are neighbors, if join hands in cooperation, will make the world more balanced, secure and stable,” Wang told Swaraj, according to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Swaraj said that since the formation of the new government in India, there has been frequent high-level communication between India and China. She underlined that the successful meeting between Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping on the sideline of the BRICS summit in Brazil provided a strong boost to bilateral relations. “The Indian side warmly welcomes President Xi Jinping’s visit to India, stands ready to vigorously enhance cooperation with China in the fields of trade, investment, culture and people-to-people exchanges, so as to bring bilateral relations to a new height,” Swaraj conveyed to her Chinese counterpart.
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