December 15, 2010


China's ambassador to India, Zhang Yan, right,
with Nirupama Rao, India's foreign secretary,
called their relations "fragile."
NEW DELHI — When leaders from the world’s most dynamic major economies get together, how do they plan to discuss their increasing dominance over global growth?
Very very carefully, it seems.
On Wednesday, the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, lands in New Delhi for a three-day trip, his first visit to India in five years. Like Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, President Obama and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France before him, Mr. Wen comes with a large entourage of executives and key ministers.
But while Mr. Wen’s delegation may be big, diplomats from both sides have played down expectations of any significant trade announcements or ground-breaking partnerships between the world’s most populous nations.
On Monday, China’s ambassador to India, Zhang Yan, called the relationship between the two countries “very fragile” while India’s foreign secretary, Nirupama Rao, spoke vaguely of the need for the two countries to move toward “congruence and cooperation.”
India and China together are home to more than a third of the world’s population, share a border of about 2,500 miles, and are expected to drive world economic growth in the years ahead. But ties between the two countries have been hurt by mistrust, ignorance and even hostility. The two countries have openly tussled over land and water rights, and more covertly over questions of intellectual property and employment visas.
Economically, “India and China both can rise, but there are a lot of conflicts,” said Ramgopal Agarwala, a senior adviser to RIS, a Delhi-based research group on emerging markets, and a former World Bank economist in China. “Both sides want to sort them out, but no one knows how.”
Business ties between the two were frayed further this year, after Indian officials enacted a virtual ban on the import of Chinese telecommunications equipment, citing security concerns, and clamped down on the percentage of overseas workers foreign companies could hire, a response to Chinese companies importing workers to build power plants here.
But that does not mean that economic ties are nonexistent — China is India’s largest trading partner. Bilateral trade is set to reach $60 billion this fiscal year, up from $42 billion in the year that ended in March. Still, the relationship strongly favors China — India exported $11.6 billion to China last fiscal year.
Where and how to fix that imbalance is unclear, analysts and economists in India say.
There are few examples of successful business tie-ups between the two nations, like the partnership of decades between Maruti of India and Suzuki of Japan, now India’s biggest car manufacturer. Chinese companies do not, for the most part, outsource jobs to India like American, European and British companies do, and they compete with India’s information technology companies.
The two countries also compete to make pharmaceuticals and ingredients for drug makers, and both are vying to become a center for low-cost research and development centers for global corporations. Any deals that could be announced during the Chinese premier’s visit may rely heavily on China’s infrastructure expertise, including plans to build power plants in India.
On Monday, the Chinese ambassador, Zhang Yan, expressed hope that the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest bank, would be allowed to open in India. There are 10 Indian banks operating in China, he noted.
Chinese officials have also said they would like to see a free trade agreement between the two countries, but Indian officials say there are too many concerns about subsidies in the Chinese market that could influence prices.
Nonetheless, Mr. Wen’s schedule remains heavily weighted toward business. On Wednesday, Mr. Wen and India’s commerce minister, Anand Sharma, will speak at the “India-China Business Cooperation Summit” arranged by several trade groups. Later, Mr. Wen will visit Tagore International School, a New Delhi school with a Chinese exchange program. On Thursday, Mr. Wen is scheduled to attend a banquet hosted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and meet with Sonia Gandhi, the chairwoman of the ruling political alliance.
When it is all over, perhaps the most important thing that can come from this week’s visit is a plan to do it over again, sooner, analysts said.
“I hope there will be a greater interest in knowing each other,” Mr. Agarwala said. “In my judgment that would be a very concrete result.”


[Key among development projects are ones that link Tibet to the rest of China.  Tibet's fifth civil airport opened in November, and China in January announced plans to build the world's highest airport in Tibet by 2011, the 14,553-foot (4,436-meter) Nagqu Dagring Airport.]

By Cara Anna
The Associated Press

Tibetan activists shout slogans against 
Chinese Premier Wen Jaibao during a
 protest march against  Wen's visit to India,
 in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, 
Dec. 15, 2010.  
(AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

BEIJING —China broke through on a road tunnel Wednesday that will link its last isolated county to the national highway system.

Workers danced, cheered and tossed each other in the air after blasting through the last part of a tunnel that connects the Tibetan county of Metok to China's major thoroughfare, China Central Television footage showed Wednesday.

Metok borders the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as its territory. The news of the tunnel breakthrough aired shortly before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in New Delhi for a three-day visit and talks with his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh.

Talks are expected to include the lingering and sensitive border dispute.  The state-run Xinhua News Agency said the 2-mile (3.3-kilometer) Galongla Tunnel was built at an altitude of 12,300 feet (3,750 meters).

Rough conditions that include elevation drops from the Himalayas to tropical rivers cut off the county about nine months of the year.

Xinhua said the highway connection will be complete a year from now. The report said Metok county in eastern Tibet has a population of 11,000.

China has spent 140 billion yuan ($20 billion) on development in Tibet since 2001, but critics say much of the money has gone to projects that benefit Chinese companies and migrants, while fueling resentment of Beijing's rule among impoverished Tibetans.

Key among development projects are ones that link Tibet to the rest of China.  Tibet's fifth civil airport opened in November, and China in January announced plans to build the world's highest airport in Tibet by 2011, the 14,553-foot (4,436-meter) Nagqu Dagring Airport.

At least six new railway lines in and around Tibet are in the works.

Critics worry the rush into Tibet could wreck much of the high-altitude region's ecosystem, and an influx of the majority ethnic Han Chinese threatens its Buddhist culture and traditional way of life.

Tourists are part of the increasing traffic. The region had 5.6 million tourists last year, Padma Choling, chairman of the Tibet autonomous regional government, told Xinhua in March.