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On Sino-India Relations

China is paying attention to the rise of India as a regional power.

[Editor’s note: "The Thirteenth Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)" was held in Dhaka between November 11 and 13, 2005. The meeting, attended by the leaders of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, marked the 20th anniversary of SAARC’s creation, and was expected to result in agreements on free trade, disaster management, and combating terrorism. India has been emerging as a regional power in South Asia in recent years and is regarded as a potential regional competitor by Beijing authorities. The article below on the SAARC meeting is reported by China’s state media Xinhua News Agency, reflecting the view of Beijing on India’s role in the region. The article titled "South Asian Countries Adore China While India Wants to Dominate and is on Guard Against China" is translated here.]"The Thirteenth Summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) concluded on November 13, 2005. Begum Khaleda Zia, Chairwoman of the summit and Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, announced that the SAARC officially admitted China as its observer.]

India Wants to Dominate

"China met repeated difficulties during its bid for the SAARC observer’s status.

"Earlier on November 9, 2005, at the SAARC preparatory meeting, Pakistani Foreign Minister and Chairman of SAARC’s Ministers Council Khurshid Mehmud Kasuri and Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran indicated that they supported Afghanistan to be admitted as a full member of SAARC. Saran said that a technical working group would be established to discuss the issue of cooperation with China. However, the proposal of accepting China as a dialogue partner met with India’s objection at the preparatory meeting and eventually failed.

"While the issue of the China-SAARC cooperation remained unresolved, India’s officials revealed before the SAARC summit, ‘If China obtains the status of dialogue partner, Japan will also express similar interest in the status.’ The reason provided by India was that the United States and Japan could propose to join the SAARC in certain capacity. If China were admitted as SAARC’s observer or dialogue partner, the SAARC would have no reason to reject requests from other countries for admission.

"At the opening on November 12, Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Chairman of the last SAARC summit, said that he hoped this summit could discuss the admission of Afghanistan as SAARC’s new member and the admission of China as an observer or dialogue partner. But in his speech at the opening ceremony, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made no response to these issues. He just made general vague statements, ‘India is prepared to offer to all SAARC members, on a reciprocal basis, daily flights to our major cities. I would suggest establishing a South Asian University to improve the educational and academic level of this region and establishing a Regional Food Reserve for emergencies in times of natural disaster.'{mospagebreak}

"As to this issue, South Asia media reported on January 13 that ‘India supports Afghanistan to be admitted as a member of the SAARC, but strongly opposes China to be involved with SAARC,’ and ‘India’s position indicates that it does not want China to be overly active in SAARC’s affairs, demonstrating the mindset that India wants to protect its dominance in SAARC.’

Every South Asia Country Adores China

"India’s disrespect of most other countries’ opinions triggered an argument.

"According to Bangladesh media, Pakistan and Sri Lanka support Afghanistan to join the SAARC and support China to participate in the SAARC. Nepal also said, it hopes that China could participate in the SAARC.

"Immediately, the Indian media turned ‘the cannon’ to Nepal. The Indian media charged that during the two-day conference Nepal insisted that the qualification of Afghanistan’s membership and China’s position as an observer or a dialogue partner should be bundled together for consideration. As a result, the summit did not make decisions on the two items. During the summit, India’s Foreign Ministry also made a statement that there was ‘not any connection’ between Afghanistan’s joining the SAARC and the China-SAARC relations. India requested that SAARC discuss the issue of cooperation with China after ‘the related standards and procedures’ have been established.

"However in the end, with strong support from other SAARC member states, both China and Japan were eventually admitted as observers at the summit. At the same time, leaders of the SAARC also decided to accept Afghanistan as a formal member of the SAARC.

How to Avoid Getting on India’s Nerves

"Wen Fude, Director of South Asia Research Institute at Sichuan University, believed that by actively developing relations with middle or small states in the SAARC, China tends to get on India’s nerves. Therefore, China may start to first develop trade relations with small countries in South Asia such as by increasing investment in these countries to increase their exporting capability, particularly in the textile industry. Since the textile industry is not a sensitive industry, it would not raise India’s suspicion."

Translated by CHINASCOPE from