China Announces India Investment, But Border Dispute Dogs Ties
By Siddhartha Kumar, dpa
NEW DELHI — China on Thursday said it would invest 20 billion dollars in India even as the Asian giants stressed the resolution of a decades-old boundary dispute that has led to a new standoff between troops.
At least 12 pacts including a 5-year-economic and trade plan as well as cooperation in areas of space, railways, and culture were signed after talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The summit in New Delhi was overshadowed by tensions over an alleged incursion by Chinese soldiers into the Ladakh region in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state.
A thousand soldiers from each side faced off in the region, making it the worst confrontation between the two sides in years, Indian media reported.
“I raised our serious concern over repeated incidents along the border,” Modi said after the meeting, calling for a joint exercise to verify the boundary.
Xi also underlined the importance of settling the boundary dispute quickly.
“China has the determination to work with India through friendly consultations to settle the boundary question at an early date,” he said.
Parts of the 3,500-kilometer border between the Asian neighbors have never been clearly demarcated and accusations of border violations by both countries have been routine. China and India have several frontier disputes, mainly left over from a brief border war fought in the Himalayas in 1962.
Despite the border tensions, Beijing announced an investment of 20 billion dollars in India’s infrastructure and manufacturing sectors over the next five years.
The new investment represents a huge jump in Chinese investments in India. Between 2000 and 2014, the Chinese have invested a total of 411 million dollars in India, according to government data.
Under the plans, China will help modernize India’s railway system with high-speed links and set up two industrial parks in the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
China also committed itself to address the trade imbalance by providing more access for India pharmaceuticals and farm produce. China is one of India’s largest trading partners but with a balance of trade overwhelming tipped in China’s favor.
“China and India are countries with major influence in the world. When China and India speak with one voice the whole world will take notice,” Xi said.
“China and India will act as twin engines in spearheading economic growth and adding to the development and prosperity of our region,” he added.
Earlier Thursday, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama urged Xi to peacefully resolve the Tibet crisis as scores of Tibetans held demonstrations outside the talks venue against China’s “human rights violations and occupation of Tibet.”
The Dalai Lama told reporters in Mumbai that Xi was more realistic and open-minded than his predecessor Hu Jintao.
“Sooner or later you have to solve the (Tibetan) problem, not by force but by talks and understanding,” he said.
Tibetan leaders have for years been calling for Beijing to accept the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” policy, which seeks “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet under Chinese rule rather than outright independence.
India is the last stop of Xi’s four-nation tour in Central and South Asia that has already taken him to Tajikistan, the Maldives, and Sri Lanka. He is to conclude his three-day visit to India Friday with a meeting with opposition leader Sonia Gandhi.
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