| Singh with Chinese President Hu Jintao. (PTI)
Berlin, June 7: The mild-mannered Manmohan Singh is not known for picking superlatives to send multiple signals, both to audiences at home and abroad, on India’s complex and somewhat uneasy relationship with China.
But after his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao this morning, the Prime Minister called Beijing Delhi’s “greatest neighbour”, with whom India wanted the “greatest relationship”, and that he would do “everything possible” in his power to improve, promote and cement ties with that great country.
The only thing Singh did not say was that India and China were “bhai-bhai” or even “best friends” — but that is an honour New Delhi currently reserves for America.
By all accounts, this was stirring stuff. Perhaps, Berlin’s hot weather had something to do with the warmth of the Prime Minister’s meeting with the President. Maybe both leaders will even speak softly together now and tell the all-powerful G8 in Heilingendamm tomorrow that developing nations like themselves must be more than adequately compensated for any promises they may make on climate change.
More likely, however, Singh was very subtly telling off the Left parties at home — especially those who swear by the Chinese way — that the great leaps forward that continue to be undertaken by Comrade Hu & Co. are embedded in the Communist Party of China’s economic reform policies.
And so, the news from Singh’s meeting with Hu today is that the good news dominates.
The Prime Minister never even brought up the matter of Beijing refusing a visa for the Arunachal Pradesh IAS officer. Border talks between National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and his Chinese counterpart Dai Bingguo may be slipping and stalling over Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin, but the conversation continues.
“Forty years ago, between India and China, there was only a single-point relationship, that around the border. Today, there is a full, whole range of activities that states and societies undertake,” foreign secretary Shiv Shankar Menon told journalists after the meeting.
Seems as if the Sino-Indian trade trajectory, currently growing at an impressive 56.4 per cent, will surely reach its target of $40 billion by 2010. Certainly, it is the fastest growth rate for any of China’s trade partners. The special representatives on the border talks have met twice this year. One hundred Indian youths will soon wend their way to China — appropriately led by minister for youth & sports Mani Shankar Aiyar — to mark the friendship year through tourism. China will return the compliment soon.
On climate change, the current bugbear of western nations, Menon insisted that there was a “large degree of congruence and identity of views” between India and China. Both leaders will iterate before the G8 tomorrow that “developing nations” cannot be expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions, unless the developed world commits itself to transparent targets.
More and more, it is becoming clear, the Prime Minister will visit China later this year.