China, India leaders ink 24 bilateral agreements

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi addressing the press following talks in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 15 May 2015 [Xinhua]

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi addressing the press following talks in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 15 May 2015 [Xinhua]

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Friday held bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Modi later described the talks as “candid and constructive” while the Chinese Premier said talks with Modi “met expectations”.

“We just had in-depth talks and touched a wide range of topics, which we both expected to yield common ground and results. It is fair to say that we met the expectations,” Li said.

Li held a welcoming ceremony for the Indian Prime Minister before their talks began in Beijing.

The two sides have signed 24 cooperation agreements in areas including mining, railways, industrial parks, urbanization and training (skill development).

In remarks made to the press following talks with Modi, the Chinese premier echoed Xi Jinping saying the two countries must boost mutual political trust.

“China and India have agreed to maintain dialogue on the border issue and seek a fair solution,” said Li speaking through an interpreter.

China’s Communist Party-run Global Times has said in an editorial that Sino-Indian cooperation should not be held hostage to western suspicion.

“It is obvious that the Western elite doesn’t want to see India and China drawing closer to each other, because it will confront their vision for Asia’s future,” said the editorial.

The Indian Prime Minister had on Thursday held talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in the latter’s hometown of Xi’an.

“I am pleased to visit China in the first year of my Government. This is one of our most important strategic partnerships. I am very grateful to President Xi for the special gesture of hosting me in Xian and for showing me city’s extraordinary heritage,” said Modi in Beijing on Friday.

The Indian Prime Minister is keen to highlight the historic and civilizational links between the two neighbours to bring harmony between the people.

The “soft power” relationships binding Delhi and Beijing like the yoga-tai chi event that the Indian Prime Minister is scheduled to attend in Beijing are likely to feature as much if not more than the “hard power” negotiations over opening up Chinese markets for Indian goods, border skirmishes and regional security.

“We have a historic responsibility to turn this relationship into a source of strength for each other and a force of good for the world,” the Indian Prime Minister said in his address to the press after talks with his Chinese counterpart.

“Bilateral cooperation was a very important part of our discussion. We have set a high level of ambition for our economic partnership,” said Modi.

The cooperation agreements signed on Friday include setting up consulates in China’s Chengdu City and India’s Chennai City. The two sides have agreed to set up a hotline between the two armies, confirmed Indian Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar in Beijing.

In another significant move, the Indian Prime Minister also announced ‘Electronic Travel Authorisation for Chinese nationals’ during his address at the prestigious Tsinghua University.

An action plan on deepening cooperation in railways has been signed by China’s National Railway Administration and India’s Ministry of Railways.

The two neighbors also agreed to strengthen cooperation in marine science and technology, climate change and polar science. In addition, a five-year outline for cooperation in aerospace has been announced.

Other agreements include strengthening exchanges in media, think tanks, education and tourism.

Four pairs of sister cities, provinces and states have been unveiled, including China’s Chongqing City and India’s Chennai City.

Modi will visit the economic powerhouse of Shanghai on Saturday to interact with Chinese business leaders.

Modi’s three-day tour is his first China visit since he took office although he has met Chinese President thrice in that period.

The Indian Prime Minister will also meet President Xi in July in Russia during the 7th BRICS Leaders Summit.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Zhao Zhu in Beijing

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