Even as India and China, representing the current world’s most polluting countries fight developed nations over global warming in Cancun, Indian National Security Adviser and Ex-Ambassador to China Shivshankar Menon and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo are meeting in Beijing for the 14th round of boundary talks. The peace talks which will last two days, come less than a month away from Premier Wen Jiabao’s trip to New Delhi where trade ties are expected to be boosted.
On an optimistic note, recently, Niu Qingbao, Consul General of China in Mumbai, said India’s bilateral trade with China is likely to cross US$120 billion by 2012 on the back of robust economic growth in both the countries. “Our bilateral trade for the first 9 months of this year was US$45.4 billion, US$2.2 billion more than the whole volume of last year. This year’s trade is expected to reach US$60 billion, surpassing the trade target set by both governments by 50 percent.
‘India is now undergoing a huge wave of infrastructure upgrading, while Chinese companies have the best expertise, equipment and financing in building high-speed railways, expressways, ports, airports and bridges. It is impossible to find another pair like this, Niu added.
However in order to develop trade and double it in the next two years, India and China will need to trust each other and build conclusive border talks soon. A contested border has been a prickly thorn in successful, uninterrupted India-China trade ever since the Indians and Chinese never agreed on a common boundary known to the Indians as the McMahon Line. Both nations claim 4,000 kms of mostly deserted, mountainous pockets of land such as Aksai Chin, Ladakh, and Arunachal Pradesh as their own territory. Visa’s, maps, water, people, infrastructure and commercial contracts have as a result always been an irritant between the two nations, and the issue is continues to raked up when convenient.
Succeeding talks in 1993 and 1996 have led to agreements over not repeating the 1962 war India-China fought. The last boundary talks were held in 2009 in New Delhi, where the two sides had agreed to push forward the framework of the dialogue process. Premiere Wen Jiabao’s visit next month is further expected to bring clarity China’s stance on the border issue, pushing it a step towards resolution.