By: Ananth Krishnan
Indian officials on Thursday painted a positive picture of securing greater Chinese support, or at least more understanding, on the question of United Nations reforms and India’s bid for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
President Pratibha Patil and her Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao after the signing of a series of agreements between the two countries, in Beijing on Thursday.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said the Chinese leadership had been positive about engaging with India on the issue, showing increasing awareness of the legitimacy of India’s position on the matter.
But whether or not this reflected any change in China’s actual position remained unclear after Thursday’s talks.
U.N. reforms, and India’s calls for Chinese support, found no mention in the statement issued by China’s Foreign Ministry following the talks between President Pratibha Patil and Chinese President Hu Jintao.
The statement only ambiguously called on the two sides to work together “to increase the representation of developing countries in international affairs,” avoiding any reference to U.N. reforms or the UNSC.
Since Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in 2005, China’s official position has been that Beijing “understood and supported India’s aspirations to play an active role in the U.N. and international affairs.”
On Thursday too, Chinese officials voiced their support in identical terms, suggesting their position had remained consistent.
Asked if this meant there had been no progress on the issue since Mr. Wen’s visit to India, Foreign Secretary Ms. Rao argued the Chinese position “had not been constant.”
“If you look at the 2008 document after the Prime Minister visited Beijing, a reference to that went far beyond what they said [in 2005], and they are building on that position now,” she said.
The 2008 statement said “the two sides support comprehensive reform of the United Nations, including giving priority to increasing the representation of developing countries in the Security Council.”
It added, China “understands and supports India’s aspirations to play a greater role in the United Nations, including in the Security Council.”