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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 June, 2003, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Vajpayee visit under scrutiny
Indian PM Vajpayee at Shanghai conference
Vajpayee: first Indian visit in decade

The visit to China by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee gets a lot of attention in the papers in both countries.

China's press broadly welcomes the agreements reached between the "two Asian giants", but some Indian papers are cautious in their assessment of the outcome.

Beijing's Zhongguo Jingji Shibao emphasizes that Vajpayee "is the first Indian prime minister to visit China in 10 years".

"This signifies that India's suspicion and fear of a powerful China is gradually diminishing."

Commenting on the formal Indian recognition that the Tibet Autonomous Region is part of Chinese territory, the paper says this shows "Vajpayee is a pragmatic statesman, who has abandoned utopianism, is seeking a simple and clear way of thinking, and has swept away an important barrier in Sino-Indian relations".

'Progress and co-operation'

Beijing's weekly Huanqiu Shibao also stresses the visit's significance for both countries.

But it adds the sober note that "improvement and progress in relations between them can by no means be achieved in one visit".

The first such visit for 10 years was never expected to resolve the difficult diplomatic issues
South China Morning Post

"The key is for the leaders and people of both countries to have a long-term footing, and from now on strive to maintain and deepen friendship and co-operation."

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post calls the Vajpayee visit "historic".

"Their joint declaration on the sensitive border disputes and the question of Tibet mark a significant step in the right direction," the paper writes.

But it thinks there is still a long way to go. "The first such visit for 10 years was never expected to resolve the difficult diplomatic issues," it says.

Melting ice

In India, the Hindi-language Dainik Bhaskar is upbeat. "The ice that had accumulated over the years on India-China relations has now started melting gradually."

A reality check on Vajpayee's China visit is needed because of the hype
Hindustan Times

"What is more important than all these agreements, however, is the realization of the two countries that they are not a threat to each other."

The India Express is similarly positive, saying the trip goes "a long way to deepen bilateral relations between the two Asian giants".

What is needed now is "initiative and innovation at all levels and in all segments of politico-economic activity".

'Reality check needed'

The Hindustan Times breaks ranks however, saying "a reality check on Vajpayee's China visit is needed because of the hype".

The paper lists examples of what it sees as Indian diplomatic "kow-tows" - "window-dressing to showcase the visit".

"Not only did the Vajpayee team forget that reciprocity is fundamental to diplomacy, it also agreed to part with whatever leverage India had been left with."

The Times of India also urges caution. "Conventional wisdom would have it that India and China arrived at a breakthrough understanding," it says.

This improvement in the Indian-Chinese relationship is certainly not to the US' liking
Rashtriya Sahara

But it continues: "India should remember that China will never place international solidarity above its national interest. China's one driving ambition is to emerge as the number one economic power of the world."

Finally, New Delhi's Rashtriya Sahara looks at the implications for Washington.

"This improvement in the Indian-Chinese relationship is certainly not to the US' liking," it says.

"It would never want India and China to form a new axis in South Asia."

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.




SEE ALSO:
Atal Behari Vajpayee
07 Jan 02  |  South Asia
Country Profile: India
02 May 03  |  Country profiles
Country profile: China
24 May 03  |  Country profiles


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