India reaches out to new leadership


As China undergoes its once-a-decade change of guard, both the Communist Party and its foreign ministry establishment have signalled that Beijing's foreign policy would not undergo any sea change under the new leadership.

Keen to ensure continuity in its engagement with China, India is preparing to reach out to the new rulers — the fifth generation which would lead the nation for the next 10 years.

Like the western world and its Asian counterparts, New Delhi too is closely following China's leadership transition although it is happening behind closed doors. A series of high-level engagements between India and China are on the cards. After the pre-scheduled strategic economic dialogue between deputy chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia and the head of China's National Development and Reform Commission Zhang Ping, National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon is set to arrive here to reach out to the new leadership.

While both Xi Jingping and Li Keqiang — the former is set to take over the reins of the Communist Party from Hu Jintao in the coming days and the country next year, the latter is tipped to be the next premier — remain an enigma for others, New Delhi has had interactions with them in the past. Former External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Li met recently and Menon himself had a meeting with Xi in 2010.

Menon will meet his counterpart Dai Bingguo for border talks as also others, but the exercise assumes significance since his visit will come after the leadership transition and in a way will be an exercise in familiarisation.

After the strategic economic dialogue and Menon's visit, the first-ever maritime dialogue between India and China will take place. The decision to hold a maritime dialogue was taken in March against the backdrop of increasing presence of Chinese vessels in the Indian Ocean and India's trade expanding through the South China Sea. More than 50 per cent of India's trade now passes through South China Sea.

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