February 4, 2015
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has wrapped up a three-day visit to China on Tuesday, amid expectations that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival in May is likely to spur economic ties, and improve the management of differences in the security domain.
Sections of the Chinese media are interpreting Ms. Swaraj’s audience with President Xi Jinping as an exceptional gesture from the Chinese side, signalling the importance Beijing now attaches to ties with India. Global Times, the daily affiliated to the Communist Party of China, quoted an academic from the Institute of International Relations at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences as saying that, “In a rare meeting with a visiting foreign minister, the Chinese President has demonstrated the importance he attaches to Sino-Indian relations.”
With investible funds in the West shrinking, the success of Mr. Modi’s “Make in India” campaign relies heavily on large-scale investments from China to revive the job-creating manufacturing sector. By Tuesday, the Chinese side had strongly signalled that it would follow up on its commitments to investment in India. Chinese official media quoted President Xi as saying after he had met Ms. Swaraj that, “Both sides should grab the opportunity of the century and work together on their development strategies. China and India should continue their cooperation in various fields, including industrial parks and the railway project, to benefit the 2.5 billion people of the two countries and the global economy.”
Observers say that Russia and China’s endorsement of India’s membership of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) was a significant takeaway from Ms. Swaraj’s visit. If accomplished, APEC membership could open the gates for New Delhi’s constructive engagement in the Indo-Pacific theatre, expanding its strategic bandwidth significantly.