China's role in PoK on Krishna's agenda

Ministers visit expected to boost efforts on boundary issue

China's role in PoK on Krishna's agenda

It is also hoped that the visit would help bring New Delhi’s relationship with its neighbour back on course.

Krishna is leaving for Beijing on Monday. His is also the first high-ranking visit from India to China after reports of incursions by Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldiers into Indian territory and the war of words over the tours of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Tibetan leader Dalai Lama in the disputed Arunachal Pradesh strained diplomatic ties last year.

The External Affairs minister will meet his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and is expected to call on Chinese premier Wen Jiabao during his visit to Beijing. Krishna and Yang will flag off the celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries. They will also formally inaugurate the Festival of India in China.

Krishna will also deliver a lecture on India-China relation at the China Institute of International Studies.

New Delhi on Saturday said that India and China would discuss all issues relevant to the bilateral relations between the two countries as well as issues related to cooperation in multi-lateral forums – like climate change negotiations and WTO trade talks – during Krishna’s visit to Beijing.

Vishnu Prakash, Joint Secretary (External Publicity) and spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), told journalists that contentious issues like China’s role in building infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and trade imbalance would also be taken up during the visit.

India had last year protested against Pakistan’s plan to build a 7,000 MW hydro-electric project on the river Indus at Bunji in Astore district of PoK with the help of China. New Delhi had said that the site of the proposed mega-project was in an area, which was an integral part of India despite being under illegal occupation of Pakistan.

China’s profile in the PoK has been rising for the past decade, with investments in a range of infrastructure projects, including construction, maintenance and expansion of the Karakoram Highway, small hydro-power projects, construction of a dry port at Sost, water-diversion channels, bridges, railway projects and telecommunication facilities.

New Delhi alleges that Beijing is illegally occupying approximately 38,000 sq kms of Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir. Besides, Islamabad ceded 5,180 sq kms of Indian territory in PoK to China in 1963. China illegally claims approximately 90,000 sq kms of Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh and about 2,000 sq kms in the middle sector of the boundary between the two nations.

Krishna’s visit to Beijing comes just after National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, India’s new Special Representative for boundary talks with China, called for evolving a detailed framework for a politically feasible resolution of the dispute.

New Delhi hopes that the External Affairs minister’s visit would boost the efforts being made by the two countries to resolve the boundary issue. The MEA’s Joint Secretary (East Asia) Gautam Bambawale said that the next round of the boundary talks would possibly take place soon, although the dates were yet to be finalised.

Krishna is also expected to take up with Yang the long-pending issue of trade barriers denying some Indian products access to Chinese markets, thus contributing to further widening the huge trade imbalance in favour of China.

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