Flashback 2015: India, China sign off most engaging year in ties

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Beijing, Dec 28: India-China relations saw high- level engagements in 2015 and the two sides look to 2016 to step up cooperation in counter-terrorism and efforts to resolve their boundary dispute as they moved towards more interactive and less confrontationist relationship.

This year saw a series of high-level visits from both sides, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trip to Beijing, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Home Minister Rajnath Singh's visits to China and Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao's trip to India.

India, China saw high level visits

Signing off the most engaging year in recent history, Northern Area Commander Lt Gen D S Hooda travelled to Beijing this month on an invitation from China.

Hooda's visit was significant as his predecessor Gen BS Jaswal was denied a visa on the ground that Northern Command covered the "disputed" Jammu and Kashmir, which sparked angry reactions from India.

Officials say Gen Hooda's visit restores military ties between the two countries, removing a major irritant. Modi's visit like that of Chinese President Xi Jinping's trip to India last year focussed more on do-ables while stepping engagement to resolve boundary dispute and measures to deal with issue of incursions.

The Prime Minister's visit resulted in USD 22 billion in business-to-business pacts, hotline connection between the two military headquarters and opening of more border points for interaction of local commanders, formation of task force for address widening trade deficit which touched USD 46 billion and granting of E-visas for Chinese tourists.

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Consequently Chinese officials say that there is a steady rise of Chinese investments in India which so far reached about USD 3 billion with a prospects of more on the way into India’s infrastructure projects. China promises to open more for Indian IT and Pharmaceuticals to improve India's exports.

During Singh's visit, the two countries for the fist time agreed to step up anti-terrorism cooperation in the region. China expressed willingness to crackdown on some of the rebel groups in the North East as part of anti-terror drive.

But the two countries had serious differences over China's increasing engagement with Pakistan and its USD 46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. India objected to it as it goes through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).

The corridor connects China's Muslim-majority Xinjiang with Pakistan's strategic Gwadar port and provides it access to the Arabian Sea and facilitates speedier imports of oil from the Middle East. Differences also remain on China's ambitious Maritime Silk Road as India has concerns over its impact in the Indian Ocean.

China this year opened a new, "safer" and "more convenient" route for Indians undertaking the arduous Kailash- Manasarovar Yatra in addition to the existing Lipulekh Pass. The opening of the second route through the Himalayan pass of Nathu La in Sikkim, 4,000 metres above sea level, was officially announced during Modi's visit to China and will allow more Indians to undertake the pilgrimage.

PTI 

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