Border row hangs heavy over Chinese president's first India visit

Two countries have long been embroiled in dispute over border, with both sides accusing soldiers of crossing over


Afp September 18, 2014

NEW DELHI: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has complained to China's visiting president about border incursions, the government said Thursday, as tensions on the remote mountainous frontier between Asia's two superpowers threatened to overshadow a crucial summit.

As Xi Jinping hailed the potential of stronger ties between China and India to bring "peace and prosperity" to 2.5 billion people, local media reported that hundreds of troops were engaged in a stand-off in the northern Ladakh region.

The two countries have long been embroiled in a bitter dispute over their border, with both sides accusing soldiers of crossing over into the other's territory.

The neighbours, now nuclear-armed, fought a brief but bloody war in 1962 over the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas, and are still embroiled in a bitter dispute over the territory.

AFP could not confirm the incursion reports, but a Ladakh lawmaker who asked not to be named said around 1,000 Chinese troops had crossed into the Indian side on Wednesday - as Xi began his visit.

"The government has sent reinforcements," he told AFP.

Foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said Modi raised the issue on Wednesday, as Xi began his first official visit to India, and would do so again in formal talks on Thursday.

Modi has rolled out the red carpet for the Chinese leader, hosting a private dinner in a luxury riverside tent in his home city Ahmedabad on Wednesday.

India's new leader is eager to secure Chinese funding to fulfil his election pledge to overhaul India's crumbling infrastructure, which experts say has held back much-needed economic growth in the country of 1.2 billion people.

At an official welcome ceremony at the Indian president's palace in central New Delhi, Xi hailed the benefits of stronger ties to "bring benefits to the 2.5 billion people in China and India".

"During this visit, I hope to work with the Indian leadership to be strong advocates of China-India relations and to partner with each other to take our strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity to a higher plane."

Despite his hardline nationalist reputation, Modi moved quickly to engage with China after taking office in May, swiftly extending an invitation to Xi. He has also spoken of his admiration for China's economic success.

China, meanwhile, is keen to foster warmer ties with its western neighbour at a time of heightened tensions with Japan and several Southeast Asian nations over disputed sea territory.

But while the two sides have been at pains to stress cooperation ahead of the visit, much remains that divides them.

Modi said during his election campaign that China would have to shed what he called its "expansionist mindset", tapping into popular sentiment in India.

Last April India accused Chinese troops of intruding deep into Indian-held territory, sparking a three-week stand-off that was only resolved when troops from both sides pulled back.

China's close ties with Pakistan and growing influence in India's backyard are another source of tension.

Xi, the first Chinese president to visit India since 2006, arrived from the Maldives and Sri Lanka, where he announced large-scale investment and sought to boost ties in the politically sensitive area of defence.

Despite repeated denials from Colombo and Beijing, some in New Delhi still fear China's growing engagement in the region is a deliberate strategy to encircle India.

The presence in India of the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, is another source of tension between the two countries.

Police in New Delhi detained around 10 Tibetan protesters outside the Chinese embassy on Wednesday morning and security was beefed up around the compound Thursday.

Xi has pledged greater investment from China, already India's biggest trading partner, with annual two-way commerce of more than $65 billion.

India has been pushing for more investment to narrow the trade deficit with China, which has soared to more than $40 billion from just $1 billion in 2001-02.

China, which built the world's largest high-speed rail system from scratch in less than a decade, is keen to secure business for its state industries as India overhauls its infrastructure.

On Wednesday it agreed to build an industrial park in the prosperous Indian state of Gujarat, where Modi served as chief minister before taking over as prime minister.

COMMENTS (5)

sharabi | 7 years ago | Reply

Other side of this business trip: Indian Conglomerate Relieance awarded a huge order for two Chinese companies ZTE & Huawei worth $ 3.4 Billion, So it is going to generates jobs in china as well, I have no problem with that after-all business is a two way thing

Vectra | 7 years ago | Reply China to invest 20 billion$ in next 5 year,that is less than said by its consul general but still a big investment,more importantly it seems the talk is more dominated by border issues and seems India has got what it wanted and in the media statements of both leaders during press conference after summit meet,India openly talks about the border issues and the Chinese president accepted publicly and raised border issues too many times in his statement and said that there is issue to solve it quickly for the betterment of both nations.That is the a major success of India despite the less but still a big investment numbers.Earlier it is said by Chinese to invest 100 billion$ by its consul general but it is also said by Indian source that India is unlikely to and will not relax the security norms for Chinese investment whatsoever and is also unlikely to grant the Chinese the market economy status anytime soon in future and was also said earlier by India’s FM that One-China policy will be endorsed by India only if One-India policy is endorsed by China therefore India no longer adds the Tibet in its Joint statement with China since 2010 but have kept it actively as a card in its foreign policy.But more than Chinese investment the border issue comming in a dominating way suggest India hit the nail right.India is now not only pursuing the aggressive foreign policy on diplomatic front globally but has also adopted the aggressive stance on its borders with just recently Indian troops confronted and challenged the Chinese PLA and drove them back and demolished the temporary track of some 10 meters build by Chinese forces on perceived Indian territory.Now again some more 1000 soldiers equally from both sides are in eye ball to eye ball situation with China now getting worried about India’s changed stance of tolerance like it was in case of previous UPA govt to a more muscular approach under PM Modi’s NDA govt both on border and global stage.China tested and got the result of experiment on PM Modi govt.But despite such difference it is good that both got themselves engages on economic front.India’s current muscular approach though may get interpreted differently by China and Pakistan but India will look at its own interest and protect its interest at any cost anywhere and that what the message of current PM Modi led NDA Govt.This will be good for India and China if confrontation is avoided by both especially on borders but till then economy economy is fine.Hope relation will improve and it will,this visit is the new beginning. @Arjun dont get unnecessarily emotional
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