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‘Strong leadership in India, China can settle disputes’

Strong leaders in India and China represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping have a historic opportunity to resolve disputes, reports in official Chinese media said.

“India is a key factor for territorial sovereignty and safety especially for western China,” Long Xingchun, a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University told China’s official Global Times commenting on Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s current visit to New Delhi.

China’s western region includes the volatile Xinjiang and Tibet provinces along the 4,000-km disputed border with India.

“India also needs China’s support to guarantee a safer environment for its development,” Long said.

Chinese official media has given wide coverage to Wang’s meeting with External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj.

“The BJP does not have a historical burden on Sino-Indian border disputes. At the same time, China sees its leadership as strong as well, which creates a historical opportunity for the two sides to solve the disputes,” Long said.

Xi is regarded as the most powerful leader as he holds the posts of president, chief of the ruling Communist Party of China, (CPC) and head of the military. He has consolidated his hold on power ever since he took office last year after a once-in-a-decade leadership change.

Similarly, the Chinese media sees Modi emerging as a strong leader in view of his party’s sweeping victory.

According to Long, this is the first time in more than 30 years that India has seen a strong government and a strong leader due to the BJP’s sweeping electoral victory.

Wang’s visit showed the great significance attached by China to its relations with India in establishing contacts with Modi and his government.

“Against the backdrop of the US rebalancing strategy in Asia-Pacific, India’s choice will, to a large extent, affect China’s situation in the global context,” Long said noting China’s presence in the region was a major reason for the US and Japan to cozy up to New Delhi.

The daily highlighted Modi’s plans to visit Bhutan first followed by Japan next month and the US in September.

Despite a hardline tone over the Sino-Indian border disputes during Modi’s campaign, analysts believe a pragmatic approach will be taken to handle them.

In addition to the border issue, economic cooperation is widely expected to be a key area for Beijing and New Delhi to work together, as Modi is seen as a pro-business leader and has made four visits to China to woo investors.

India is keen to narrow the vast trade deficit of $31 billion, even as the two countries close in on their goal of $100 billion in bilateral trade by 2015, the Global Times report said.

-PTI