Wen talks to media people as Manmohan (in turban) looks on, December 16, 2010
New Delhi: The Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao met with Dr Manmohan Singh today and after the bilateral talks, it was what was left out of the joint statement, rather than what was in it, that was noteworthy.
In a pointed break with tradition, there is no mention of India respecting the 'One China' policy, which recognizes Tibet and Taiwan as integral parts of China.
Government sources say that at the talks, China did want this to be included in the statement, but India countered that was only possible if China acknowledged Jammu and Kashmir as an integral part of India. Startled, China backed off.
There was also no progress made on the contentious issues of stapled visas issued by China to travelers from Jammu and Kashmir, thereby denoting that China accepts J&K as disputed territory.
The Chinese PM brought up the topic but went no futrher than suggesting that officials from both countries discuss the matter further. "The ball is in their court. There is no doubt about that," said Nirupama Rao, India's Foreign Secretary.
India spoke candidly about its concerns on terror emanating from Pakistan; but the joint statement found no mention of 26/11 or the "P" word. Instead , in a small concession to India, the document refers to "the need to implement all relevant UN resolutions on terror - in particular number 1267 - which lists the JuD and Hafiz Saeed as terrorists." Saeed, the founder of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) is the mastermind of the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai.
India continues to be irked by China's refusal to add to the list Masood Mazhar, founder of terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed. He was released by India in in exchange for the passengers taken hostage when an Indian Airlines plane was hijacked in January 2000.
There is also no change in China's position for a permanent seat for India at the UN Security Council. The statement today says "China supports India's aspiration to play a greater role in the UN, including the Security Council. China welcomes India's election to non-permanent membership."
The two countries have also set a huge trade target of 100 billion dollars by 2015.
After the talks, the Chinese Premier delivered a speech which paid tribute to India's rise as a world power, and the patience needed to tackle the most difficult issue of all: the boundary. "The China-India boundary question has a historical legacy. It will not be easy to resolve this; it requires patience. Only with sincerity, mutual trust and perseverance, we can get a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution," he said.
So while both sides made positive public statements after a year of considerable strain, confidence and trust seem elusive for now.