CHINA: Beijing does a U-turn, praises India-China bond

'People's Daily' online edition publishes editorial by Chinese ambassador to India about the two country's cooperation in global affairs

The Times of India
Wednesday, August 5, 2009

By Saibal Dasgupta

Beijing --- China on Wednesday signaled its desire to adopt a friendlier diplomatic approach towards India as compared to its somewhat aggressive stance in the past weeks. Zhang Yan, the Chinese ambassador in New Delhi, has lent his name to a highly favorable editorial published by People's Daily on Wednesday.

The Internet edition of the paper, which is the official organ of the Communist Party of China, said that Sino-Indian relations have advanced in an all-round way and with a fast pace in recent years. The tone and content of the article is almost the opposite of what was said in another piece two months back.

The paper and its sister publication, Global Times, published an aggressive article last June reprimanding India for "unwise military moves" of marshalling forces along the Arunchal Pradesh border. The article said India's moves are "dangerous if it is based on a false anticipation that China will cave in".

It is not clear what prompted the editorial apart from the fact that the "greatest neighbors" are due to celebrate six decades of friendship next year. It talked about how India and China are jointly influencing global affairs by taking similar approach on issues concerning environmental protection, climate change, food and energy security and at the Doha round of trade talks.

Contrast these views with those expressed by the paper last June when it said:

"India has long held contradictory views on China. Another big Asian country, India is frustrated that China's rise has captured much of the world's attention." Proud of its "advanced political system," India feels superior to China. "However, it faces a disappointing domestic situation which is unstable compared with China's".

The June article also said that "India likes to brag about its sustainable development, but worries that it is being left behind by China. China is seen in India as both a potential threat and a competitor to surpass."

The new article does an about turn saying: "China has become one of India's largest trade partners, and India is now one of the most vital investment and overseas project contracting markets for China". The article also talks about the 35 per cent year on year growth in bilateral trade between the two countries.

The People's Daily said that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's successful, three-day visit to China in January last year has resulted in the signing of an agreement named "A Shared Vision for the 21st Century of China and India" in order to press ahead with the construction of a harmonious world for common prosperity.

Subsequent visits to China by Indian leaders Sonia Gandhi and Pranab Mukherjee and the India trip by Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi last year has resulted in a "sound momentum of sustained, smooth and steady growth has been shown in the relations between the two Asian neighbors".

"Looking ahead, people are confident that China and India, both nations with great ancient civilizations, which had contributed greatly to the world civilization and development, are sure to make new, fresh contributions to peace in Asia and the world at large while attaining their own development", it said.