On Board Air India One, March 28 (IANS) India has sought a mechanism from China to jointly assess the construction projects on the Brahmaputra, across the border, while also feeling reassured that “run-of-the-river” projects there posed no worry for it.
The demand for the joint oversight was made during a bilateral meeting in Durban between Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and new Chinese President Xi Jinping on the margins of the 5th BRICS Summit.
“I also took the opportunity to raise the issue of trans-border river systems and requested the Chinese government to provide a joint mechanism to enable us to assess the type of construction activity that is going on in the Tibetan Autonomous Region,” the prime minister said.
“The president of China assured me they were quite conscious of their responsibilities and the interest of the lower riparian countries,” said the prime minister, briefing the accompanying media delegation on way back from Durban.
“As regards the specific mechanism that I had suggested, he (Xi) said they would have it further looked into,” the prime minister added.
“But as of now, our assessment is that whatever activity is taking place on the Brahmaputra region in Tibet, they are essentially the run-of-the-river projects and, therefore, there is no cause for worry on our part.”
Manmohan Singh said he met Xi twice in Durban, “reviewed the whole gamut” of issues and mutually agreed to continue the tradition of frequent high-level bilateral exchanges to further Sino-Indian ties.
“We both agreed the type of intimate exchanges that used to take place when President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao were in their positions.. we should aim to maintain similar relationship under the new leadership of China,” the prime minister said.
“I got a distinct impression the new Chinese leadership is as serious as the former Chinese leadership to promote good neighbourly relations and find practical, pragmatic solutions to outstanding issues between our two countries.”
In another context, the prime minister said India and China bilaterally had matters to address – that of both cooperation and competition, but added that forums like BRICS provided an ideal platform to tackle such issues.
“Of course this relationship between India and China has elements of coordination, cooperation and competition,” he said.
“But for us it is very useful to have a forum like BRICS whereby we can exchange views not only on events which have implications for the management of our bilateral relationship, but also how the global system affects our interests and our concerns.”
(Arvind Padmanabhan can be contacted at [email protected])