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Sr Indian Ministers visiting China amid tensions

Last Updated: Sunday, September 12, 2010 - 18:20

Beijing: Amid concerns in India over a
Chinese presence in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and the
denial of a visa to a top Indian Army General, two senior
Indian ministers are slated to make high-profile visits here
for talks with top Chinese officials.

Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal arrived
in the Chinese city of Tianjin today to take part in the
Fourth Summer Davos Forum, beginning tomorrow.

Over 1,400 top businessmen, government and corporate
officials are expected to take part in the forum being
organised by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum (WEF).

Besides the main theme of `Driving Growth through
Sustainability`, strategic issues like reshaping of the
competitive landscape in a resource-limited world, the role of
Asia`s soft power, the situation in the Korean peninsula and
China`s responsibility to the world are expected to come up.

Top Chinese policymakers were also scheduled to take part
in the meeting.

Sibal is also scheduled to have talks with Chinese
officials in Beijing on September 14 to discuss bilateral
cooperation between the two countries on education, science
and technology.

Following Sibal`s visit, Minister for Road Transport and
Highways Kamal Nath will travel to China to take part in two
roadshows on India`s massive infrastructure development
programme, for which Chinese participation and investment has
been welcomed, especially in highways and bridge projects.

The first roadshow will take place in Beijing on
September 15 and the second will be held later at Tianjin. A
large number of Chinese private and state-owned company
officials are expected to take part.

India, which has already opened up for the telecom and
power sectors to Chinese investment and technology, wants
large-scale Chinese participation in infrastructure projects,
as their rates are widely regarded as 30 to 40 per cent
cheaper than their Western counterparts.

Nath was also expected to have an interaction with top
Chinese officials during his stay here.

The visits were lined up well before the recent
controversy over the presence of Chinese troops in PoK, as
well as the denial of visas to Northern Area Army Commander
Lieutenant General B S Jaswal on the ground that he headed
troops in Jammu and Kashmir, which China regards as a disputed
territory, creating new strains in bilateral ties.

The visits by the top Indian ministers could provide an
interactive platform for both the countries to have candid
discussions on the thorny issues that impeded progress on
bilateral relations, officials here said.

The Indian Ambassador to China, S Jaishankar, has already
met Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun and conveyed
India`s concern over the presence of troops in the Gilgit-
Baltistan area. In response, China has clarified that its
personnel were present to carry out relief activities in
flood-hit areas.

However, the issue relating to the denial of a visa to
Lieutenant General Jaswal has not been resolved, as it is
linked to China`s new policy of issuing stapled visas to
residents of Jammu and Kashmir. India has called off its
defence exchanges with China in protest.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, September 12, 2010 - 18:20

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