China backs India`s aspirations for UNSC
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Last Updated: Friday, May 28, 2010, 00:13
Beijing: Skirting contentious issues, visiting President Pratibha Patil on Thursday held discussions with the top Chinese leadership which supported India's aspirations of becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a stand welcomed by the Indian side.

Patil, the first Indian Head of State to visit this country in a decade, held wide-ranging discussions with her Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao as well as Premier Wen Jiabao after being accorded a ceremonial welcome at the Great Hall of the People.

At a glittering banquet hosted by Hu, Patil and her delegation were pleasently surprised when the Chinese military band played old Bollywood numbers such as 'mera naam chin chin chu' and 'bar bar dekho'.

Controversial issues such as Chinese border incursions, stapled visas for Kashmiris, Indian visas for Chinese telcom companies and Sino-Pak ties did not figure in the discussions, which is not unusual for ceremonial visits.

Patil sought Chinese support for New Delhi's permanent membership of the UNSC during talks with Hu, Wen and the National People's Congress Chairman Wu Bangguo, whose position is like that of the Lok Sabha Speaker.

Briefing reporters after the talks, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said that the Chinese leaders supported India's aspirations for UNSC permanent seat and had assured the Indian leader that Beijing would back its bid in next year's election for a non-permanent membership of the UNSC.

Asked how this stand was different from Beijing's earlier position, Rao said that there was a greater degree of clarity in Chinese position on the permanent UNSC seat and this shows that they want to have a "positive engagement" with the Indian side on the issue.

The Chinese position as elucidated during the talks lent greater legitimacy to India's claim, according to Rao who was India's Ambassador to Beijing before her elevation to the current position.

Rao also said that on the UNSC issue the response by China was neither "guarded nor diplomatic".

There was a very positive "tone and tenor" in these meetings, and this is a very positive statement, she said.

She said while agreeing that there should be greater representation for developing countries in the UN, China said "the two governments should strengthen their cooperation on UN matters which will include (Security Council's) reform".

Patil also took up the issue of trade imbalance in India-China trade ties with the Chinese leadership.

In 2009, India-China bilateral trade touched USD 43.3 billion. While Indian exports to China amounted to USD 13.7 billion, the country imported Chinese goods worth USD 29.57 billion, indicating an adverse trade imbalance.

The President sought access for Indian pharmaceuticals companies, engineering goods and IT-enabled services to the huge Chinese market.

During the talks, she also pressed for lean season data of Brahmaputra river from the Chinese side. Currently, China supplies only flood season data of the Brahmaputra river to India.

The two sides also signed three pacts that included streamlining of the visa application and visa formalities for the airlines staff of the two countries, cooperation in the field of civil services, personnel management and public administration and cooperation in the field of sports.

Under the visa streamlining agreement, the airline staff of the two countries can enjoy visa-free travel thereby enabling more flights, more contacts between the two countries, Rao said.

The cooperation in the civil services and other areas will include exchanging visits and organising lectures, while the pact in the field of sports will enable transfer of expertise in physical education and exchange of coaches.

Patil, who arrived here yesterday on a six-day visit to China, was welcomed warmly by Wen at the Purple Light Pavilion.

The President also discussed bilateral issues, particularly trade and commerce between the two countries with the Chinese leaders and mechanism set up by the two countries to address border issue.

With the boundary issue pending, both sides reiterated their commitment to continue efforts to keep peace and tranquillity in the border areas, Rao said.

Welcoming Patil, the leaders described her visit here as "significant" as it coincided with the 60th year of establishment of Sino-India diplomatic ties.

"It is a great pleasure to have you here. Let me welcome you to China. You are the first (Indian) President to visit in a decade," Wen said, while welcoming Patil.

Referring to age-old relationship and exchange between the two countries, Patil talked about visits by a number of Buddhist monks to China from India as well as the enduring visits by Rabindranath Tagore and services rendered by Dr Dwarkanath Kotnis.

As a special gesture, the President has invited Kotnis' sister Vatsala Kotnis to be present during her visit. She has already arrived here from Mumbai today and will be attending functions from tomorrow, Rao said.

Rao said the Chinese side has also made a special gesture of constructing a gallery on Tagore in Rebindra Bharti in Kolkata.


First Published: Friday, May 28, 2010, 00:13

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