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
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
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
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
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
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