New Delhi: India and China have agreed to step up defence and strategic dialogue to increase mutual trust and cooperation.
In a meeting between the prime ministers of the two countries on the sidelines of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said his country was arranging trade missions to India to increase Indian exports to reduce the ballooning trade deficit between the two nations.
India will also be looking at exporting rice to China, according to a transcript of a briefing by foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai on the ministry of external affairs website.
Trade between India and China crossed $73 billion (around Rs4 trillion) in 2011-12, but India has been concerned about the ballooning trade gap, which was more than $23 billion. Both sides had set a target of $100 billion in trade by 2015 during a visit by Wen to New Delhi in 2010, Mathai noted, adding “in fact we are moving in that direction”.
India has also been seeking increased investment in the infrastructure sector, especially road building.
Wen Jiabao, China’s premier. Photo: Bloomberg
The meeting was the 13th at the bilateral level between Wen and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mathai said, adding that both leaders discussed contentious issues such as the unresolved boundary dispute dating back to the 1962 war between the neighbours.
“The two prime ministers said that the defence and strategic dialogue between our two countries should be continued and maintained at the level it is, and stepped up,” Mathai said. He was talking about the dialogue between India’s defence secretary, Shashi Kant Sharma, and Ma Xiaotian, deputy chief of the People’s Liberation Army General Staff.
According to Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, the strategic dialogue at foreign secretary level is being revived after a gap of about two years and this was triggered by the debt crisis in Europe. “India and China are both affected by this. India in terms of investments coming from Europe, and China in terms of exports given that they have some $500 billion in trade with Europe,” Kondapalli said.
Singh also noted that four Indian ships had made a port call at Shanghai earlier this month, citing this as “another example of continuing cooperation” between the two countries, Mathai added.
“As far as the boundary question is concerned, there was a reference made to it, and it was decided that the special representatives would work for preparing the joint record of their work so far, which was already announced in January, and also give directions for the future coordination between us,” Mathai said. He was referring to talks between Indian and Chinese special envoys since 2003 to fast track a solution to the boundary dispute. China claims 90,000 sq. km of Arunachal Pradesh and occupies around 38,000 sq. km in Jammu and Kashmir