Beijing awaits arrival
Rao visit to boost ties with China
With less than a day left for the prime minister, Mr. P.V. Narasimha Rao, to set his feet on China’s capital city, Beijing, the high-level Indian delegation headed by him appears to have prepared itself for important discussions with Chinese leaders on various matters, particularly further confidence-building measures between the two countries.
For obvious reasons, Mr. Narasimha Rao has chosen to be non-communicative on his agenda, which he will take up during his meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Mr. Li Peng. Nonetheless, by the time Mr. Narasimha Rao was found getting ready for his ‘crucial’ visit to China, indications were by no means uncertain that he would ensure that his meeting with Mr. Peng (fourth between them within two years) gives a ‘positive’ political direction to the border talks.
Mr. Narasimha Rao who is scheduled to be in Beijing on Monday afternoon in response to the none-too-old invitation from the Chinese prime minister, worked overtime during the past one week, merely because of the two sides expecting to sign several agreements, which as per present indications would also include agreements on avoidance of double taxation, environment and a banking agreement.
But the most important agreement, expected to be signed in Beijing during Mr. Narasimha Rao’s stay there, would be on setting out the additional confidence-building measures between the two sides along the line of actual control. What actually transpires between Mr. Narasimha Rao and his Chinese counterpart during the two proposed meetings remains to be seen.
However, according to the China-watchers in the Indian capital, Mr. Narasimha Rao’s four-day visit may result in the preparation of a ‘conceptual framework’ for delineating the Sino-Indian boundary. The Indian delegation appears optimistic, considering the fact that much progress was made on the border question during the six rounds of the Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting held between the two countries.
True, the question of coming to a formal agreement on the line of actual control has of late gained tremendous importance. But at the same time, one is to watch the situation on this count with utmost caution, ostensibly because the issue is highly complex considering the historical and emotional overtones.
Both New Delhi and Beijing are conscious of the fact that the Joint Working Group (JWG), during its six rounds of talks, had discussed the boundary question of general terms, without coming to any conclusion. No wonder, the Indian prime minister this time seems set to involve the Chinese side in a process that will make the political leadership of the two countries to give a ‘directive’ for the lines on which discussions could take place in more specific terms.
Judging from the latest observations by the Indian foreign secretary, Mr. J N Dixit, it is quite likely that at the summit meeting in Beijing, apart from removing the remaining irritants for finalising the ‘conceptual framework’ on the boundary question, Mr. Narasimha Rao and Mr. Li Peng would also review the international situation and exchange views on their vision on how to adjust to global changes.
The China-watchers are of the view that if all goes well during Mr. Narasimha Rao’s visit, it is possible that a concrete agreement would be signed in Beijing to define the line of actual control. In this connection, observers attach much significance to the recent observation made by the Chinese ambassador that an agreement on further confidence-building measures between the two countries would be signed during Mr. Narasimha Rao’s visit to Beijing.
Equally significant will be Mr. Narasimha Rao’s visit to South Korea. In fact, by the time the prime minister made it known that he would also pay a visit to South Korea, an important development had taken place - the Koreans stated that their investment in India could increase substantially.
Their statement, however, made it plain that even though the Koreans fully supported India’s economic liberalisation policy, some procedural and infrastructural bottlenecks had to be speedily removed for putting up new ventures in joint collaboration with Indians.
Naturally, this subject is quite likely to figure during Mr. Narasimha Rao’s talks with the South Koran president, Mr. Kim Young Sam, and the Joint Indo-Korean Business Council during his three-day visit to Seoul from September 9 to 11.