Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh'svisit to China has evoked varied sentiments at least in the English media. What comes through is persisting suspicion of China and its intentions and a feeling that India is not standing up to the wiles of its neighbour. As The Free Press Journal (January 14) not-so-subtly put it, ?the fact is that China has evolved its own not-so-inscrutable way of simultaneous confrontation and cooperation with major nations, including India?. The Journal was ruthless in its estimation of China'sintentions. ?If only? it said ?our foreign policy mandarins come to grips with the reality of the Chinese objectives, there will neither be any sentimentalism about restoring the ersatz climate of Hindi-Chini-Bhai-Bhai of the 50s nor a fear psychosis about her forcibly gobbling parts of our territory?.
The paper said that ?given the bitterness of the past and the Chinese hegemonic objectives in the entire region in the future, India cannot afford to let its guard down?. The paper expressed its fears yet once again in an editorial two days later when it said that ?only we in India suffer from an inferiority complex which instinctively obliges us to espy a Chinese nod for the deal with the Americans? Isn'tthat a poor reflection of extra-territorial loyalties on both sides?.? The paper advised India to normalise ties with China by means but warned: ?Talk with it by all means but from a position of strength, rather than as a supplicant?. Wise words indeed. The Times of India (January 17), like the Journal, pointed out the disturbing trend in Sino-Indian trade which has ballooned to nearly $ 10 billion in China'sfavour. India exported low-value articles such as iron and cotton to China but imported electrical machinery and equipment, organic chemicals and even nuclear reactors. But bemoaning this state of affairs, said the paper, will not do. ?India? it said, will have to move up the technology and value chain by focusing on knowledge creation in all sectors of the economy?.
It is by sharing knowledge and trading innovation/the paper added that India and China can enhance bilateral investment ties. There have been doubts in certain quarters about the constant postponement of decision on border issues and even over China'sattitude towards India'sbid to return to the international civil nuclear market. Deccan Herald(January 16), for example, pointed out that on the boundary dispute China has merely confined itself to reiterating its position as in 2005, even when it has ?signalled it has an open mind on India'sbid to return to the international civil nuclear market?.
However, the paper said ?in essence the Summit Document unmistakably points to one thing?both Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiahao have agreed to pick up the thread of bilateral ties from where they left at the end of their first summit in Delhi in April 2005?. Gomantak Times (January 15) was not clear how much India stands to gain following the Prime Minister'svisit to Beijing. It said that not withstanding the MOUs which have been signed ?there has been ?not a word on the military-capable infrastructure Beijing is adding Tibet to gain strategic depth and reduce tactical reaction-time?. The paper regretted that there has been ?no reciprocation of India'slong-stressed adherence to a ?One China? policy. Indeed, it added, there has been ?not even a joint approach to the recalcitrant West as far as climate change and reduction of green-house gas emission control goes?. The paper said, even while acknowledging that China has reiterated India'srole in an expanded United Nations Security Council, that as recently as in 2005 ?Beijing backed the United States? efforts to scuttle the expansion?.
The paper expressed its skepticism over China'sagreeing to cooperate in civilian nuclear power generation by wondering whether ?this is a fall-out of New Delhi'simproving relations with the US?. The Chandigarh-based The Tribune thought that China'ssupport for ?India'saspirations to play a greater role in the United Nations, including the Security Council? is significant. That, said the paper ?shows the realisation in Beijing that India has been denied its rightful place in the U.N. system?. The paper advised that India and China ?have to forget the balance of power factor which only breeds suspicion and animosity? and suggested that ?they have to work together to ensure that peace and tranquility prevail along the common border?. As for trade the paper felt that the existing trade imbalance was unlikely to end in the near future. It said: ?Indo-China trade has grown fast-faster than expectations?.There is already talk of the possibility of China replacing the US as India'stop trading partner?.
At the same time, the paper took note of the fact that the ?furious trade growth has left India seriously concerned at the widening deficit?. The Hindu (January 22) thought that Dr Singh? three-day official visit to Beijing ?has contributed incrementally to the maturation and diversification of a bilateral relationship that has done hearteningly well over the last two decades?. The paper noted that ?there have been incremental political gains, notably China'scommitment to promote bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation consistent with its international commitments?.
The paper also took note of China'ssupport ?for India'saspiration to play a greater role in the United Nations, including the Security Council?, even if it did not explain what is meant by ?a greater role?. Presumably that is left to the readers? imagination. The paper did not seem to be unduly perturbed over the growing trade deficit which India has with China when it said that ? in this age of globalisation, it is the aggregate picture that matters for a large economy when trade deficits and surpluses are discussed?. As for the border dispute between the two countries the paper said that ?nobody seriously expects the United Progressive Alliance to pull out of its hat, before its elected term is over, a final package settlement of this highly sensitive question ?left over by history? ?though it added: ?An agreed framework of settlement that is politically saleable will certainly be a big feather in the cap of the UPA government?. What is to be noted is that there is only subdued acceptance of the Vision Statement. Which, all said, is just as well.