‘India, China to lead Asian century in IT industry’
(Asia News | April 15, 2005)

Chinese Premier is in India to boost Sino-Indian cooperation in the technology and energy fields. Tensions are high over possible protests by pro-independence Tibetan nationalists.

In an official statement, China and India agreed to "to promote good neighbourliness, friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation". As part of this, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Indian Prime Minister Manmoahn Singh in their meeting today signed an agreement to settle their border disputes in the Himalaya. The agreement does not solve all the disputes that led to the 1962 Sino-Indian but requires them to maintain "friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries".

Since the 1960s India accuses China of occupying 38,000 km2 of Kashmir territory, whilst China claims 90,000 km2 now part of Arunachal Pradesh, a north-eastern Indian state.

Both countries fought a short but bloody war in 1962. However, since then the demarcation lines have been peaceful thanks in part to two agreements signed in 1993 and 1996 respectively.

Wen Jiabao arrived in India from Pakistan yesterday on the final leg of a tour that included Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

About 30 issues are on the discussion table, most important of all: energy.

With an average 8-9 per cent growth rate China needs energy it must buy abroad; India is in a similar predicament.

Both governments want to cooperate to gain access to stable energy supplies in the world oil and gas market.

At the same time, the two Asian giants want to promote mutual trade relations. Sino-Indian trade has in fact been growing fast, from US$ 7 billion in 2003-2004 to US$ 13.6 in 2004-2005. This is why both are exploring establishing a free trade zone, removing all barriers to good, services and people between the two countries.

In his visit to Bangalore, India's IT capital, Wen stressed the need for cooperation to achieve the "Asian century" in the IT industry.

"Cooperation is just like two pagodas (temples), one hardware and one software," Wen said. "Combined, we can take the leadership position in the world," he added.

Tibet, however, remains a stumbling bloc between the two countries. Since the Dalai Lama's flight from his homeland in 1959 following an aborted uprising against Chinese rule in the territory, he and the Tibetan government-in-exile have been living in exile in India.

So far neither side has said anything about the issue, but Indian authorities have recently arrested some 120 Tibetan political activists who were organising anti-Chinese demonstrations.

In Bangalore, Tenzin Tsundue, a Tibetan activist, climbed to the top of the 30 metre tower (100 ft) of the Indian Institute of science and launched pro-Tibetan independence leaflets.

Samdhong Rinpoche, Tibet's exiled Prime Minister, said however in a statement: "I hope the Chinese premier's visit to India turns out to be a success" and appealed to the Tibetan community "to refrain from indulging in aggressive demonstrations" during the visit.

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