Li's visit to India full of hope

Updated: 2013-05-17 08:17

By Rup Narayan Das (China Daily)

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Media reports suggest that a new set of confidence building measures, which would include border management, could be initiated (and even agreed on) during Li's visit to India. Since these are complex issues, a lot of hard work will be required to fine-tune such agreements. But it is highly likely that the two sides will sign a joint declaration envisioning the road ahead.

Trade will be another important issue in the comprehensive dialogue between China and India in New Delhi. The volume of Sino-Indian trade was more than $73 billion in 2011. And though it fell to $66 billion last year, it is expected to reach $100 billion by 2015. Trade thus plays a significant role in bilateral relations, although the 24 percent drop in Indian exports to China last year has raised concerns in India.

On the security front, positive political vibes between China and India will have a cascading effect on their militaries. Every country has the right to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity in times of threat as well as peace. But a nation's security is more than just defense preparedness; it is also a matter of political trust. As such, it would be unrealistic to burden the two countries' militaries with developing political trust, because that is a job for the political class and diplomats to pursue.

Nevertheless, defense cooperation and military exchanges are always welcome and desirable, because they are like subsets of an over-arching complex and sensitive relationship between the two countries.

As far as media coverage is concerned, it depends to a large extent on the nature of the two countries' relationship. In India, for example, the job of the media is to inform and educate the people and refrain from negative reporting.

The challenge before the two countries' leaderships, defense personnel, diplomats, bureaucrats, media and think tanks - in fact, all the stakeholders - is to maintain the momentum and take bilateral ties to greater heights to help the peoples of the two countries to prosper and promote regional and global peace.

The author is a senior fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. The views in the article are his personal.

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