India-China Current Affairs

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India-China first Strategic Dialogue held in Beijing

The first Strategic Dialogue between India and China was held in Beijing, capital of China to shore up bilateral ties.

The meeting was co-chaired by India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar and China’s Executive Vice Foreign minister Zhang Yesui.

Key Facts
  • The Strategic Dialogue mechanism between both countries was agreed to during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to India in August 2016.
  • In the first meeting, both countries discussed all issues of mutual interest in bilateral, regional and international domain. They also discussed issues of mutual concern and interest including friction points.
  • The dialogue strived to take a holistic view of the relations between the two countries. It also tried to an extent to accommodate each other’s concerns and interests.
  • On the issue of 1267 Committee’s sanctions on Masood Azhar: India once again explained the rationale for its application to committee and pointed out that the issue was also pursued by other countries too.
  • India held that Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) itself is proscribed as terrorist organisation under 1267. So it is strong proof for declaring Azhar, founder of JeM a global terrorist.
  • On the NSG issue: China underlined that they were open to India’s application for membership. But it has own view of the procedures and processes which are different from most of the group’s members.
Background

In recent times, India-China ties have witnessed strain following China’s rigid stand on issues crucial to India such as membership to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and designation of JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) chief and Pathankot attack mastermind Masood Azhar as global terrorist by the UN under 1267 Sanctions list. In 2016, China had scuttled India’s membership bid at the meeting of NSG and also opposed banning of Azhar by the UN, apparently at the behest of Pakistan.

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Hong Kong revokes visa-free entry to Indians

Hong Kong, a China-administered special territory has decided to withdraw visa-free facility for Indians from January 23, 2017.

This decision was taken on the ground to prevent illegal immigration as number of Indian asylum seekers was on the rise. Over half a million Indians visit Hong Kong for business, trade and holidays.

Under the new rules, Indian travellers will have to complete a pre-arrival registration. Such pre-registration would notvisa-hongkong be necessary for those transiting through the Hong Kong airport without leaving the airport transit area. 

Background

Earlier, Hong Kong used to be part of a block of countries that gave Indians unconditional visa-free entry. Indians were permitted to enter Hong Kong with a valid passport for a period up to 14 days without a visa. However in recent times, it was found that Indian nationals were overstaying in Hong Kong by violating visa norms.

Comment

Hong Kong’s unilateral decision came a year after its government had sent a delegation headed by the Assistant Director of Immigration from the Immigration Department and Hong Kong Police in December 2015 to India. It had informed concerns about “illegal employment” and “human trafficking” involving Indians in Hong Kong to India’s External Affairs Ministry. They even had expressed concern that many Indians taking up jobs even though Hong Kong does not allow visitors to work.

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China agrees to import rice from 17 mills in India

China has agreed to import rice, non-basmati and basmati varieties from 17 registered mills in India. These mills are in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

It is considered as a major breakthrough in India’s efforts to ensure market access for Indian products (especially rice) in China as it is the world’s largest rice importer.

What is the issue?

  • India had repeatedly sought market access for Indian products citing the country’s widening goods trade deficit with China.
  • The products included non-basmati rice, pharmaceuticals and many fruits and vegetables among others.
  • However, China had not granted market access to India’s non-basmati rice claiming that it failed to meet Chinese norms on quality, safety and health standards.
  • China’s apprehensions included the possibility of the cabinet beetle (or Khapra beetle) pest getting transported along with Indian non-basmati rice consignments to China.
  • In India, China’s objection to Indian non-basmati export was seen more political in nature than anything else as it imports non-basmati rice from its all weather friend Pakistan.

Note: India’s goods trade deficit with China has ballooned to $52.7 billion in 2015-16 from $1.1 billion in 2003-04.

Background

  • After numerous requests from Indian side, Chinese officials had visited India in September to inspect 19 rice mills registered with National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO).
  • NPPO had assisted its Chinese counterpart AQSIQ during inspection for plant quarantine purposes and pest-risk analysis to ensure that non-basmati consignments from India will be pest-free, of good quality and safe.
  • The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) under the Indian Commerce Ministry was also involved in the process.
  • Besides, India also had earlier sent the information sought by AQSIQ regarding the quality protocol and standard operating procedures.

NPPO is the nodal government agency for inspecting mills and granting certificates on plant health for export purposes. It is mandatory for Indian rice exporters to get registered with NPPO.

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