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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Press upbeat over Vajpayee's China visit
Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee & Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao
The makings of a formidable relationship

The trip by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to China has been hailed by local media as an opportunity for the two sides to become a force to be reckoned with on the world stage.

One Indian daily argues the two sides could together form an important international counterweight to the United States. Mr Vajpayee's visit "sets the stage for the two giant neighbours to give a major new thrust to their bilateral relations", an editorial in The Hindu says.

Through their combined leadership, they can impart a needed balance to global affairs
The Hindu

"It is an opportunity to turn a historic potential into a reality by giving the relations greater depth through closer economic co-operation and political understanding," it says.

The daily recognises that there is no easy solution to what it calls "the vexed issues" of the disputed border between the two sides, and Beijing's ties with Pakistan.

But "given the political will on either side, there is no reason why the mutual wariness and suspicion that has characterised the relations in the past cannot be replaced with trust and confidence in each other", it adds.

Global balance

The Hindu argues that Beijing and New Delhi can, "through their combined leadership, impart a needed balance to global affairs".

This is vital "at a time of unprecedented flux in international relations, rudely shaken by the American doctrine of pre-emption and the war on Iraq".

"If the Vajpayee visit results in imparting greater depth to bilateral relations through more intensive economic co-operation and reduced political friction, the continent may have taken one more step toward the dream of an Asian century," it says.

The possibility of an "Asian Century" is a theme which also emerges in the influential Hindi-language Navbharat Times.

The goal is not a military alliance, but to transform Asia - through a partnership between India and China - into the economic engine of the world.
Navbharat Times

An editorial recalls the not-so-distant tensions between the two sides, including India's testing nuclear warheads in 1998 "to demonstrate a deterrent to China".

"But now, as Mr Vajpayee goes to China, the environment is greatly changed. This is the moment to jettison the burden of history and inaugurate a new beginning, the need for which is felt by both sides."

Economic engine

"The goal is not a military alliance, but to transform Asia - through a partnership between India and China - into the economic engine of the world."

Comprising two of the world's fastest developing economies, the two countries represent one-third of humanity, and in a few decades will boast 55% of the world's population aged under 30, the paper says.

"This young, dominant consumer population will give the two countries incomparable strength. It provides an opportunity to make that dream of an Asian century come true.

China's leadership has little time for platitudinous sentimentalities in which our political leaders revel
Times of India

Times of India believes Beijing "will not easily compromise on the border issue. They have signalled too that China means to continue its clandestine support to Pakistan's nuclear programme".

"Given this, India has one of two options. It can either harp on the 'core' issues of border and Pakistan or it can concentrate on more fruitful areas of cooperation for the immediate future. India and China have a relationship that is solidly anchored in economic complementarities."

The Times believes "Atalji should talk security but concentrate on trade".

New stage

A headline in Beijing's China Daily proclaims "Sino-Indian ties enter new stage".

A constructive Sino-Indian partnership would conform more to their respective political and security interests than a relationship as rivals
China Daily commentator

"What truly matters now for the two countries is a shared political will to anchor bilateral ties," commentator Hu Xuan believes.

"A constructive Sino-Indian partnership would conform more to their respective political and security interests than a relationship as rivals."

Writing in the same paper, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) researcher Wang Hongwei argues that "China's development offers an opportunity rather than a threat to India".

Mutual benefit

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post considers it "unlikely the two sides will allow unresolved diplomatic disputes to spoil what is shaping up to be a mutually beneficial trade relationship".

"On the diplomatic and military front, barring any surprises, the best that can be hoped for is a broad agreement to work towards peaceful settlement of ongoing disagreements," it says.

The Communist Party paper Renmin Ribao argues that although Mr Vajpayee's presence is "very important" it will need more than one visit to cement bilateral relations.

"Some contradictions and problems between China and India have been ongoing for a number of years and cannot be solved satisfactorily by one round of talks.

"The decisive factor is that both the leaders and people of the two countries should take a long-term view and strive to maintain and deepen their friendship and cooperation."

For the capital's youth daily Beijing Qingnian Bao, "over the past year, the development of Sino-Indian relations has been remarkable".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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