President Pranab Mukherjee began his four-day China visit on Tuesday as the two giant neighbours continue to negotiate old and new disputes amid the promise of closer economic ties and narrowing of diplomatic differences. Mukherjee’s special Air India flight carrying a large delegation of Indian officials and journalists touched down at the southern Chinese industrial hub of Guangzhou.
After a day in Guangzhou where he will interact with members of the Indian community and deliver a keynote address at a business forum, Mukherjee will fly to Beijing for a series of bilateral meetings with China’s top leaders beginning with President Xi Jinping. “Sino-Indian relations is one of the most important bilateral relations. Presently, the bilateral relations are facing lots of challenges -- though trend is good -- some rising negative voices are affecting it. The visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to China between May 24 and May 27 will be of very great importance in communicating (with) each other,” Professor Zhu Cuiping, deputy director of the Research Institute for Indian Ocean Economies at Yunnan University of Finance & Economics, told.
She added that Mukherjee’s past experience in dealing with China will have a positive impact on the visit.
“China and India established bilateral Defence Dialogue Mechanism during President Mukherjee’s visit to China in 2006 as defence minister. He also visited China and delivered a lecture in Peking University in 2008 as a foreign minister. His rich experiences including work as commerce secretary, finance minister, defence minister as well as foreign minister in the past years means this visit is significance for bilateral relations rather than symbolic meaning,” Zhu said.
Eminent China scholar M Mohanty said that besides raising the issue of designating Mazud Azhar of JeM as terrorist and India’s membership in Nuclear Suppliers Group, Mukherjee is likely to discuss terrorism and regional issues. “The challenge of terrorist forces in general and the growing threat in South Asia, India-Nepal-China coordination on communications, trade and cultural issues, the water flow in Brahmaputra and the slow pace of implementation of the agreements arrived at during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit including the boundary talks should be taken up by India.” Mohanty said.
He added: “At the same time, India should be ready to respond to Chinese side raising the reluctant, at best ambivalent Indian response to OBOR (China’s One Belt, One Road strategy), the recent conference of Chinese dissidents in Dharamsala and the growing Indo-US defence coordination.”