by Lady Michelle Jennifer Santos
BEIJING, February 2, 2015 (TSR) – The foreign ministers of China, India and Russia on Monday are converging on Beijing to hold major trilateral talks, in the wake of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India.
The 13th trilateral meeting scheduled for Feb 2 coincide with Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj’s first visit to China since she took office. This is the first visit by a Cabinet minister of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government to Beijing after India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in May.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has also held bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart Swaraj on the sidelines of the meeting.
The group dubbed as RIC (Russia, India and China) will discuss a range of foreign policy issues involving the three countries.
“We share similar views on major international and regional issues. So during the meeting, they will exchange views on practical cooperation and issues of common interest,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said during the Wednesday press conference.
Hua also hailed the development and importance of the Sino-Indian relationship at the news conference, saying both countries have deepened political trust, reaped the benefits of cooperation in various sectors and coordinated in global and regional affairs.
Western media reported at length about the upturn of India-US ties and the “shadow” of China looming over Obama’s high-profile visit, which concluded on Tuesday.
Washington views India as a potential counterweight in Asia to China. In a veiled reference to China, the two leaders reiterated the “importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the region, especially in the South China Sea”.
Breaking protocol, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who seldom meets visiting foreign ministers, will meet India’s external affairs minister in the backdrop of Obama’s recent trip.
Representing Modi’s new government’s reinvigorated foreign policy thrust, Swaraj hinted at boosting bilateral relations with China in order to usher an “Asian Century”.
“Even in the last eight months it is already evident that dramatic transformations are under way in my country that will accelerate our journey to modernity,” she said during the first leg of her China visit.
“We have made considerable progress in establishing and expanding defence contacts and exchanges including across our border.”
“They contribute to the maintenance of peace and tranquillity there, a perquisite to, for the further development of our relationship. On the boundary question my government is committed to expanding an early settlement.”
China and India have been locked in a border dispute for years.
India is also expected to seek Chinese support for a permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council as China is the only one of the five permanent members of the UNSC that remains against the proposal.
The three countries currently cooperate on a range of issues, including industry, trade, agriculture, emergency relief and healthcare, and are also members of various key organizations such as BRICS – a group of five emerging national economies, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa?and the G-20 forum of major economies.
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation got the ball rolling last year to make India a member of the security group that also includes China and Russia.
China is India’s top trading partner, with bilateral trade worth $65.5 billion in 2013. The Modi administration is keen to attract foreign direct investment from China to upgrade India’s infrastructure.
China would like to work with India to maintain the momentum to build a closer partnership and realize peaceful common development, Hua said.
Besides meeting with Chinese leaders and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Swaraj will kick off the second China-India Media Forum and attend the launch of the Visit India Year during her stay in China.
President Xi Jinping, speaking during his visit to India last year, designated this year as Visit India Year in China, and 2016 as Visit China Year in India.
Russia, China back India’s inclusion in expanded APEC
Russia and China have endorsed India’s efforts to formalise an iron-clad rejection of international terrorism, amid a call by the three countries to end the era of a unipolar world and rid the globe of the threat of “regime change.”
At the end of their day-long deliberations in the Chinese capital on Monday, the foreign ministers of the Russia-India-China (RIC) grouping issued a comprehensive joint communiqué that called for an ambitious reform of an international system that was respectful of the diversity of home-grown political systems.
The communiqué recommended India’s inclusion in an expanded Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a 21-nation grouping of Pacific Rim countries. The Ministers endorsed India’s impending membership to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) after elevating the grouping, which is pillared by Russia, China and most of the Central Asian States as “one of the key instruments in promoting multilateral political, security, economic and humanitarian interaction in the region.”
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which India is joining soon, has been holding major counter-terrorism exercises, in anticipation of the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Recognising the threat to stability posed during Afghanistan’s upcoming transitional phase, the three Ministers called for supporting the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), in tune with the withdrawal of the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Without specifying the “Pivot to Asia” doctrine of the U.S., which involves concentration of forces on China’s periphery, a joint statement by the RIC grouping called for advancing talks in the East Asia summit framework on rule-based security architecture in the Asia-Pacific, driven by the United Nations.