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Jaishankar said India and China were also discussing cooperation in developing high speed trains and station development. Photo: Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times
Jaishankar said India and China were also discussing cooperation in developing high speed trains and station development. Photo: Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times

Ahead of Modi’s China visit, Pok investments emerge as sticking point

Foreign secretary says the matter was raised with the Chinese Ambassador in India and also by Indian envoy in Beijing

New Delhi: India has raised with China its concerns over huge Chinese investments in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) after President Xi Jinping’s trip to Pakistan last month, it was disclosed on Tuesday on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China.

“The matter was raised with the Chinese Ambassador here (India). It was also taken up by our Indian envoy in Beijing," foreign secretary S. Jaishankar said when asked about China cooperating with Pakistan in developing infrastructure projects in PoK."

During his visit to Pakistan, Xi had pledged assistance of $46-billion to build a strategic economic corridor through the PoK.

Briefing the reporters on Modi’s six-day visit to China, Mongolia and South Korea, Jaishankar said a slew of agreements will be signed with all three countries to bolster cooperation in key areas.

Asked if any breakthrough was expected on the contentious boundary issue with China during Modi’s meetings with Xi and Premier Li Keqiang, the foreign secretary did not give a direct answer, saying that 18 rounds have been held between the Special Representatives and the two sides were yet to “reach a stage where there is finality".

However, he noted that progress on all bilateral issues and challenges will be discussed during Modi’s talks with the Chinese leadership.

Modi will first fly to Xian, the home province of Xi for a summit meeting with the Chinese leader during which they are expected to discuss ways to take forward the strategic partnership between the two countries.

From Xian, he (Modi) will travel to Beijing for extensive talks with Prime Minister Li Keqiang when the two sides will sign a number of agreements to bolster cooperation in trade, investment, infrastructure including railways, tourism and greater people-to-people contracts.

“A full range of political issues" will be covered during the talks, Jaishankar said.

China is not keen on the clarification of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) proposed by Modi last year during Xi’s visit to India. The clarification of LAC ahead of the resolution of the boundary was expected to restrict aggressive patrolling from both sides.

Jaishankar said India and China were also discussing cooperation in developing high speed trains and station development.

To a question, he said it is “conceivable" that the issue of India seeking China’s support for its entry into four export control regimes comes up during Modi’s talks with the Chinese leadership.

Besides talks with Premier Li, Modi is set to meet top Chinese CEOs including Alibaba founder Jack Ma and address India–China Business Forum in Shanghai on 16 May, the last day of his three-day visit to China.

China has committed to invest $20 billion in two industrial parks in Gujarat and Maharashtra in the next five years and the money has not started flowing into India yet. Chinese officials complain of issues relating to visa access and red tape resulting in the delay of flow of investments.

Besides new investments, the two countries are set to sign a number of agreements to deepen cooperation in skill development. It will be the first time since Xi took over power two years ago that he will be receiving a foreign leader outside Beijing and will spend considerable time informally interacting with Modi.

It is seen as a reciprocal gesture by the Chinese leader to the reception Modi accorded to him during his visit to Ahmedabad last year.

The only other leader Xi has spent time walking around was with Barack Obama last year during APEC summit when he took the US President around Zhongnanhai, the imperial garden in Beijing where the top Chinese leadership resides.

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