The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Last shot at China riddle
- Wen lands, race in Delhi to choose right words

New Delhi/Bangalore, April 9: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao touched down in India's technology capital this evening, adding a sense of urgency to a last-ditch effort in the political capital to iron out the edges in a document that could take bilateral relations to a higher level.

'China stands ready to work with India to view and handle our bilateral relations from a strategic perspective bearing in mind the larger picture, expand and deepen exchanges and cooperation in all areas and properly settle questions left over from history with a view to bringing China-India ties to a new high,' Wen said in a statement issued soon after landing in Bangalore.

Shorn of the trademark Chinese riddle, Wen seems to suggest that Beijing is keen to resolve the boundary dispute 'questions left over from history' an area where hectic efforts are on to formalise a breakthrough.

Wen's gateway to India ' Bangalore ' was also highly symbolic, though the venue was chosen for logistical reasons.

The southern city, whose software campuses have helped India join China among the world's fastest-growing economies, could one day face stiff competition from Beijing. Wen, who will visit a few infotech facilities in Bangalore tomorrow before leaving for Delhi, tonight invited such companies to invest in his country.

In Delhi, foreign secretary Shyam Saran and Chinese vice-foreign minister Wu Dawei were racing against time this evening to remove glitches in the wording of the document that will allow the two giants to enter into a 'strategic partnership'. If the differences are sunk, the document will be signed jointly by Wen and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Both India and China agree that the time has come to look at each other more as partners than rivals. 'What was essentially viewed as an adversarial relationship is now being seen as a potential partnership,' a senior foreign ministry official said.

But differences persist on how the new relationship should be defined. China is keen that the two sides enter into a strategic partnership. India is not averse to the idea, but it wants to choose the words of the new relationship with caution.

One of the key concerns in Delhi is that any commitment to the Chinese should not foreclose its options with the West, especially the US. But India will also be keen to send a signal to America at a time when a perception is gaining ground that Islamabad has had a more fruitful relationship than Delhi with Washington.

Besides the strategic partnership, the thrust of Wen's tour will be on two areas ' settlement of the boundary dispute and stronger economic ties.

Delhi has been insisting on an unambiguous statement from China that Sikkim is an integral part of India. Once this comes through, the foreign ministry feels the two sides will be in a position to come to an agreement on the 'guiding principles and political parameters' (the framework) to resolve the boundary dispute.

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