Posted by: Dexter Roberts on October 28, 2009
Just three days after a not-so-cordial meeting between Chinese premier Wen Jiabao and Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh in Hua Hin, Thailand, the foreign ministers of the two countries, Yang Jiechi and S.M. Krishna—joined by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov—met yesterday in Bangalore, India. It was the ninth such trilateral meeting held by the countries.
As expected, the meeting ended with a joint communiqué touting opportunities for cooperation between the three countries, including fighting terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and combating climate change. The foreign ministers stressed their mutual interest in seeing a lessening of tensions in Afghanistan. And pointing out that their nations account for “20 percent of the total global landmass and represent 39 percent of the global population,” the communiqué stressed they should play “a significant role in world affairs.”
The three countries stated their desire to see trade and business ties strengthened, stressing too their complementary interests when it comes to energy. “Russia is a dominant supplier of oil and gas; India and China are energy deficit, but significant suppliers of manufactured products and services. Trilateral relations can be further reinforced by establishing mutually advantageous relations in the energy sector,” the communiqué stated. China of course, has been actively seeking oil and gas deals around the world, and this year has signed or is mulling over deals worth more than $15 billion.
But despite all the talk of cooperation as well as fast-growing business and trade, the Sino-Indian relationship is facing serious frictions of course. Tensions have flared between both countries’ militaries along their disputed 2,175 mile-long border, with both sides alleging more frequent troop incursions in recent weeks. And a planned visit by the Dalai Lama to the region of Arunachal Pradesh (controlled by India but claimed by China) has seriously angered Beijing. China already was upset when the Indian prime minister recently visited the disputed region—a move seen as deliberately provocative by Beijing.
Now the Indian government’s decision to allow the Dalai Lama to visit that same border region (which China considers an Indian-occupied piece of it’s own Tibetan Autonomous Region) has added flames to the fire. China of course already deeply resents the fact that the top Tibetan leader, and several hundred thousand exiled Tibetans, are allowed to reside in India. Those frictions were on display for the world yesterday too: even as the foreign ministers were meeting, outside the venue at least 14 Tibetan students were arrested for protesting.