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Li's visit to India full of hope

By Rup Narayan Das | China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-17 08:17

Premier Li Keqiang's May 19-20 visit to India is significant for at least two reasons.

This is his first visit abroad after being elected premier, indicating the importance China, especially Li, attaches to India. Also, Li's visit takes place close on the heels of a successful meeting between President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Durban in March, where the two leaders discussed issues of mutual interest for the first time.

In between, senior diplomats of the two countries have held talks, the most significant being the one during the recent visit of India's External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to China. The visit of Khurshid, who has been consistent in his approach to relations with China, prepared the ground for the Chinese premier's visit to New Delhi.

Khurshid has presumably established a good personal chemistry with Chinese leaders, which is essential for diplomatic parleys. The deals the two countries may sign in New Delhi would entail a high degree of mutual sensitivity and space for mutual adjustments, which conforms to oriental wisdom and which should permeate Sino-Indian relations.

Over the years, diplomats and defense personnel of the two countries have benefited from bilateral dealings. And if the two sides are comfortable and enjoy the spirit of bonhomie while dealing with each other, many intractable issues can be smoothened out.

Li's visit to India (as did Khurshid's to China) takes place in the backdrop of the recent standoff between the two countries' armies in the western sector of the undefined and undemarcated Line of Actual Control between India and China in mid-April. But the two neighbors handled the issue deftly and prevented tensions from escalating further, which clearly reflects the maturity of Sino-Indian relationship today.

The fact that such irritants have not stymied the friendly ties between the two countries and their peoples also indicates the resilience of their relationship. But such incidents should neither be trivialized nor ignored. It is likely, therefore, that discussions on the border issue will dominate the talks between Li and his Indian counterpart in New Delhi, even though the two countries have separate mechanisms to deal with the issue.

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