India, China vow to resolve border row, boost ties

May 20, 2013, 23:41 IST | Agencies

Both leaders yesterday played down their recent border dispute and other tensions, pledging to work together for regional stability and economic growth; ink several deals to reduce trade gap

India and China scripted a new chapter in their ties yesterday as Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh candidly discussed the recent border row and decided to take steps for an early resolution to a dispute that triggered a war in 1962. Li, making Delhi his first halt in his foreign trip after assuming power in March, and Singh also agreed that the world’s two most populous nations and biggest economies had a lot in common despite some known differences. Singh told the media along with Li that they held “wide ranging and candid discussions” on all matters of mutual concern and realised that there was “a great deal of meeting of minds.”

‘A big stride forward’: Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang yesterday  described the consensus reached on various issues between China and India as "a big stride forward" and called for conducting dialogue in a “mature and sensible way”. Pic/AFP

Li echoed him, saying India and China were “strategic partners and good friends” that could speak to each other with candour, while stressing on discussions on the border issue and river waters. PM Singh said the two countries’ special representatives would meet soon to discuss the border dispute. “We agreed that our special representatives will meet soon to continue discussions, seeking early agreement on a framework for a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable boundary settlement.” Manmohan Singh said both leaders “took stock of lessons learnt from the recent incident in the western sector” of the Sino-Indian border, and that the “existing (border) mechanism proved their worth.”

Boosting trade
India signed four agreements with China that will boost Indian shipments of buffalo meat, fisheries and pharmaceuticals, and help reduce the trade deficit that has risen in the financial year ended March 31.

Three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) relate to facilitating trading of buffalo meat, fisheries and pharmaceuticals. The fourth is related to easing the trade of feed and feed ingredients.

These agreements were signed by the authorities concerned of the two countries in the presence of Singh and Li. After signing the agreements, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said the deals would help curb the widening trade deficit between the two countries.

“The signing of the MoUs between India and China is a good beginning to address the issues India is raising with China from time to time. All the sectors are of immense trade importance to India, and India has clear price and quality competitiveness in these sectors to compete in the world market,” Sharma said in a statement.

Trade deficit between India and China surged to $40.77 billion in 2012-13 as compared to $1.08 billion in 2001-02. Also, as per an agreement signed by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, China will make improvements to the existing facilities for Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims including providing them with wireless sets and local SIM cards. 

Delhiites fume as visit causes chaos
Delhiites had a harrowing time due to traffic restrictions put in place in the heart of the city during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit. Some even slammed the practice of closing roads for the movement of dignitaries. Harassed commuters spent hours negotiating traffic jams and diversions on a hot summer day and questioned the logic behind blocking off key roads. Gurgaon resident Swaroop Singh said it was difficult to reach his office in the heavy traffic. "There was so much traffic this morning. It meant one to two hours more in my commuting time," he said. To add to the woes of Metro users, the Race Course, Udyog Bhawan, Central Secretariat and Khan Market stations were closed for two hours from 8 am to 10 am.

Tibetans protest near Li's hotel
Tibetan activists yesterday defied security and managed to stage a small protest near the Taj Palace Hotel in New Delhi where Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is staying, police said. 

Three Tibetan students also climbed on top of a structure in a filling station near the hotel and shouted slogans for a free Tibet, an official said. They also displayed a banner that read “Li Keqiang, Tibet will be free”. The three students were later detained by police. 

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