ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Li Peng's India Visit:Ritual and Reality

Amidst the 'before' and 'after' of Li Peng's visit and the omissions and commissions of the rhetorical exercises, the impression is unmistakable that Sino-Indian relations are not moving at the pace they could or ought to.

What transpires ‘before’ and ‘after’ an event is very often of greater consequence than what is signified by the actual event itself. The ‘before’ and ‘after’, as it were, also provide the context or setting in which the significance of the event itself actually becomes explicit. The ‘before’ and ‘after’ of Li Peng’s visit, from January 9 to 17, therefore needs a closer look.

Even as the preparations for the swearing in of George W Bush Jr as the 43rd president of the US were underway, Li Peng, the chairman of the National People’s Congress of the PRC arrived on a nine-day visit to India. This was the longest visit by such a high ranking Chinese leader to India in recent times. It was also a visit that was not clubbed with a stopover or visit to any second or third country, underscoring the importance of the visit. While Li was going through an itinerary of expected and pre-arranged meetings, visits, addresses and discussions, the Indian prime minister, probably quite coincidentally, was on a week-long state visit to Vietnam and Indonesia. He returned in time to have a crucial meeting with Li Peng, just before the latter’s departure to India’s hi-tech pastures – Hyderabad and Bangalore.

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