Beijing: China and India ramped up trade and military links as their leaders sought to portray the two Asian powerhouses as complementary neighbors rather than rivals.
Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh, on a three-day China visit, was scheduled to meet with president Hu Jintao and the ruling Communist Party’s No. 2 ranking official, Wu Bangguo, on 15 January.
Following talks on 14 January in Beijing, Singh and Chinese premier Wen Jiabao pledged to maintain calm along their disputed border while negotiators tried to resolve the long-standing disagreement.
Singh’s visit to China, the first by an Indian prime minister in five years, highlights growing interaction between the countries, whose combined populations of nearly 2.4 billion account a third of humanity.
With China’s economy steaming ahead at about 11% a year and India’s at about 9%, both nations are exerting a growing influence on the global economy.
“We attach the highest priority to developing the cooperative and beneficial partnership relationship with China,” Singh said at the beginning of talks with Wen.
The two later signed a document setting out their shared vision for future ties, and reiterated their commitment to resolving the boundary dispute that sparked a short but bloody border war in 1962.
Wen and Singh told reporters they had set a new target for two-way trade to reach $60 billion by 2010, up $20 billion from the original goal.
The two-way trade grew to $37 billion last year, with the balance heavily in China’s favor.
Both leaders said joint military drills would be held in India this year, but did not give the dates. They held their first-ever joint exercises in China last year.
While China-India ties have been warming for years, some continue to see a potential rivalry developing out of their desire for regional influence and export markets.
New Delhi has also expressed concern about China’s cultivation of relations with Myanmar, Pakistan and other Indian neighbors, while Beijing is believed to be watching developments in New Delhi’s increasingly close relationship with Washington.
Wen, however, portrayed the nations as complementary powers.
“We expressed satisfaction with the sound momentum of China-India relations, believing that China and India are partners, not rivals,” he said.
“Our two economies are becoming the engines of economic growth and we must use our natural and human resources, technologies and capital for the common benefit of the people of our region and indeed of the world as a whole,” he said.