India and China on Friday signed 24 deals worth over $10 billion to improve bilateral ties. The progress came amid India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China. Modi told China’s leaders that it was up to them to rethink policies that had hindered cooperation between the two countries.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) shakes hands with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) during a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 15, 2015 - AFP
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) shakes hands with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) during a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 15, 2015 – AFP
He told reporters in Beijing after meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and unveiling 24 agreements that would help improve relations between the two Asian countries. Modi however said that the Chinese government should consider India’s grievances.

Modi in a statement joint press statement with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at Beijing said: “There is need for China to reconsider its approach on some of the issues that hold us back from realizing full potential of our partnership. I suggested that China should take a strategic and long term view of our relations. I found the Chinese leadership responsive. On the boundary question, we agreed that we continue to explore a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution. We both reiterated our strong commitment to make all efforts to maintain peace and tranquility in the border region.
I found sensitivity to our concerns on this issue; and, interest in further intensifying confidence building measures. I also reiterated the importance of clarification of Line of Actual Control in this regard. I sought tangible progress on issues relating to visa policy and trans-border rivers. I also discussed some of our regional concerns.”

“Both leaders were very supportive about increased Chinese participation in our Make in India mission and infrastructure sector. In Shanghai tomorrow, we will see over twenty ventures in the private sector take concrete shape.

President Xi and Premier Li were very receptive to the specific concerns I had raised on our growing trade deficit. We look forward to early impact on the ground. We have agreed to create a high-level task force to develop a strategic road-map to expand economic relations. It will cover a broad range of areas including Infrastructure, IT, Pharma, Agriculture and Manufacturing. An area of high priority for us is people-to-people contacts. Indians and Chinese don’t know each other well, much less understand each other. We have decided to take the relationship out of the narrow confines of governments in the national capitals to states, cities and our people,” Indian PM said.

He said for the first time, India has launched a State and Provincial Leaders’ Forum with any country. This is consistent with my firm commitment to cooperative federalism in India. This is the “Year of India” in China; the next one will be the “Year of China” in India. “This will expand tourism between our two countries. We are establishing a Centre for Gandhian and Indian Studies in Shanghai, a Yoga College in Kunming and a bilateral Think-Tanks Forum. The Nathu La route for Indian pilgrims to visit Kailash Mansarovar will become operational in June. I want to thank China for that.”

Modi said that their decision to open a consulates in Chengdu and Chennai reflects growing mutual confidence and shared commitment to expand bilateral relationship. These steps will help make our relationship more broad-based and people-centric.

Finally, we have many common global and regional interests. For example, we have a shared interest in the outcome of the international climate change negotiations. We are both trying to strengthen regional connectivity. Terrorism is a shared threat. Instability in West Asia matters to both of us. Peace and progress in Afghanistan benefits us both. I am confident that our international partnership will deepen. Today, we have signed over 20 agreements, covering diverse areas of cooperation. This shows the depth and maturity of our relationship and the positive direction of our partnership, Modi said.

The Indian leader, who announced e-visa facility for the Chinese tourists, asked Beijing to “reconsider its approach on some issues that hold us back”, an apparent reference to matters like issuance of stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh over which China lays territorial claim.

The two sides decided to increase the number of border meeting points of their military personnel from the existing four as they underlined that maintenance of peace and tranquility on the border was an “important guarantor” for the development and continued growth of ties.

Modi and Li discussed a wide range of issues, including boundary dispute, trade imbalance, terrorism, investment, climate change and UN reforms, during their 90-minute talks.