A fine balance

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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, who is scheduled to visit Pakistan later this week, is presently in India where he has stressed development of strategic ties between the two countries. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed hope that the two sides will be able to reach strategic consensus. Chinese attitude to ties with India, despite several unsettled disputes, is highly pragmatic and while it has not resolved the disputes, it has benefited both countries in several spheres. There is a lot Pakistan has to learn from the example.

There are several differences between China and India which at times seem insurmountable. These include the border disputes that led to a full scale war in 1962 in which the Indian side suffered a humiliating defeat. China continues to consider Indian controlled Kashmir as a disputed territory. Recently, New Delhi bristled at the denial of visa by Beijing to an Indian General stationed in the occupied Kashmir who was scheduled to travel to China. India has lodged protests several times with Beijing insisting that it issue visas for Kashmiris with Indian passports stamped on separate paper. Meanwhile, unending complaints of minor border incidents have continued to appear in the media. Two months back, China protested strongly when India allowed Dalai Lama to visit the disputed border areas. Conscious of reports that Washington is trying to build India as a counterweight to China in the region, Wen Jiabao said the ties between the two countries are independent of US-India relations. The differences have failed to stop the growth of economic relations and trade ties with India. Bilateral trade has boomed and is set to reach $60 billion dollars this fiscal year, up from $42 billion the year before. Acknowledging Indias concerns over a trade surplus in Chinas favour of between $18 and $25 billion, Wen Jiabao agreed to facilitate access of Indian IT and pharmaceutical products to the Chinese market. Several Indian entrepreneurs have moved businesses to China during the lat few years. Recently, Indian billionaire Anil Ambanis Reliance Power got a loan of Rs 5,000 crore (over $1 billion) from three Chinese banks.

India has tried this time to sway Beijngs stand on Kashmir by suggesting that Kashmir is Indias Tibet. This failed to influence the Chinese premier who has maintained the traditional Chinese stand on Kashmir and relations with Pakistan.