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China, India ink raft of deals, eye nuclear cooperation
September 18, 2014, 8:52 am

Indian and Chinese national flags flutter side by side at the Raisina hills in New Delhi, India, on Sept. 18, 2014 [Xinhua]

Indian and Chinese national flags flutter side by side at the Raisina hills in New Delhi, India, on Sept. 18, 2014 [Xinhua]

China and India have inked a slew of economic and trade deals during President Xi Jinping’s New Delhi visit as Beijing applies its financial clout.

The two BRICS members have also said they would soon launch discussion on “civil nuclear energy cooperation that will bolster broader cooperation on energy security”.

Xi and the Indian Prime Minister witnessed the signing of 12 cooperation agreements, including on building two Chinese industrial parks in India and commitment to about $20 billion Chinese investments in India over a period of five years.

The two nations also signed a railway co-operation pact and a twinning agreement between trade hubs Shanghai and Mumbai.

Xi was welcomed on Wednesday by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ahmedabad, the capital city of the Western Indian state of Gujarat, the second meeting of the two leaders after the new Indian government was sworn in. Xi had met Modi during the 6th BRICS Summit in Brazil in July.

The Indian Prime Minister also stressed on greater access to Chinese markets for Indian goods.

“I urged that our companies get easier market access & investment opportunities in China,” Modi said following extensive talks with Xi on Thursday.

On Thursday, in a meeting with his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi, Xi said China and India must coordinate positions on international issues.

“We are also two important forces in an increasingly multi-polar world. Therefore, our relationship has strategic and global significance,” said Xi.

Beijing and New Delhi have set a trade target of $100 billion by 2015.

Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said Xi and Modi discussed “all sensitive issues of concern, at length, during talks” on Thursday in New Delhi in a reference to Indian media reports of alleged Chinese troops “incursion” in Indian territory this week.

“We should also seek an early settlement of the boundary question,” said the Indian Prime Minister after talks with Xi on Thursday.

A brief border war in 1962 disrupted ties between the two neighbours. The two sides signed a landmark border accord last year.

China and India share a 2,000-km-long border that has never been formally delineated. The two countries began discussing border issues in the 1980s.

Chinese media on Thursday said the two countries have made “great efforts to ensure their overall cooperation would not be derailed by the long-existing border disputes”.

“Both being members of the BRICS, China and India can cooperate and coordinate closely within regional frameworks to accelerate economic development and improve the lives of their people,” said an editorial in state-run Xinhua on Thursday.

China has come to displace the United States as the great power with the most influence in the Asian continent.

China’s economic surge is also pulling blocs like ASEAN, SCO and the Central Asian region into Beijing’s orbit.

China has also said it would like India to participate in China’s Silk Road economic belt project.

“The Silk Road boasts a 3-billion population and a market that is unparalleled both in scale and potential,” Xi said in September last year.

A new map unveiled by Xinhua shows the Chinese plans for the Silk Road run through Central China to the northern Xinjiang from where it travels through Central Asia entering Kazakhstan and onto Iraq, Iran, Syria and then Istanbul in Turkey from where it runs across Europe cutting across Germany, Netherlands and Italy.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had said last year China, India and Russia can “play a major role in building the Silk Route Economic Corridor”.

President Xi Jinping’s proposal to integrate the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor with the grand Silk Route economic belt aims to promote investment opportunities for China.

China increased bilateral trade with Bangladesh to about $10.3bn, with Myanmar to $6 billion in 2013.

China is India’s largest trading partner, while India is China’s biggest in South Asia, with the two-way trade reaching $65.4 billion in 2013.

China, India alongwith the two other Asian neighbours have already established an inter-governmental body last December to help build a Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

This year also marks the 60th anniversary of an agreement signed in the early days of the Cold War to pledge a rising China’s commitment to peace.

In 1954, China, India and Myanmar signed the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, promising mutual non-aggression and non-interference in internal affairs, ideals then incorporated into the Non-Aligned Movement of countries who did not wish to choose between the United States and the Soviet Union.