Sep 18, 2014 3:25 AM
India, China leaders to discuss trade, investment
The Associated Press
NEW DELHI (AP) Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to bring prosperity to Asia and create opportunities for the world as he and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi began talks Thursday to deepen cooperation through investment and trade.
Xi said India and China as the world's largest developing countries and emerging markets shared a relationship of strategic and global significance
"We can bring prosperity to Asia, and we can create opportunities for the world," Xi said during a ceremonial welcome at the presidential palace.
But as Xi and Modi began their talks in the Indian capital, there was another blip in tensions between the countries over their disputed border in the high Himalayas.
Chinese and Indian troops were involved in a face-off along their border in the Ladakh region in northern India. Indian officials said Chinese soldiers had entered Indian territory and appeared to be building a road in the region.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told reporters Thursday that India would raise the border problems with the Chinese leader during the talks.
However, the main focus of the talks would likely be on pushing Chinese investment in developing India's infrastructure and boosting Indian exports in an attempt to improve the balance of trade that is skewed in China's favor.
Trade between the countries was more than $70 billion in 2013. But India's trade deficit with China is already at about $40 billion and there are fears that could grow if China uses India as a dumping ground for cheap manufactured goods in the future. The countries have set a trade target of $100 billion by 2015, but both sides still need to iron out wrinkles in their trade and tax policies to help achieve that goal.
Security was tight near the palatial building in central Delhi where the talks were being held, with hundreds of police posted around the venue. But in a major embarrassment to the Delhi police, dozens of Tibetan protesters, mostly women, managed to evade the police and stage a noisy protest outside the building after the two leaders began their meeting.
"China: Hands off Tibet," ''We want justice: Free Tibet," the protesters shouted as police grappled with them. The protesters were quickly pushed and shoved into buses and driven away.
Tibetan protests against China are a regular feature in India, and tend to increase during visits by Chinese leaders. The presence in India of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, remains a major irritant for China. India has allowed the Dalai Lama, who fled to India in the 1950s following a failed uprising in Tibet, to set up a government in exile in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala.
The Dalai Lama said this week that China could learn from India on how different ethnic and religious groups can live in harmony.
Earlier, Xi was given a ceremonial welcome at the presidential palace and inspected a military guard of honor. The Chinese leader and his wife also visited a memorial to Mohandas Gandhi to pay homage to India's independence leader.
Analysts say while there is little danger of a conventional war breaking out between the Asian giants, the frequent border skirmishes make it difficult to achieve a lasting resolution of the dispute.
India and China have held several rounds of talks to resolve their long festering border dispute but have made little real progress. The past few years have seen several flares up with India accusing Chinese soldiers of repeated border incursions.
The two sides fought a brief war in 1962, harming ties for decades, although relations have improved in recent years.