While Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s meeting with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Russia captured all the attention,  Singh’s talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao may turn out to be just as important in easing off renewed pressure on the complex relationship between the world’s rising powers.

India said this month it will bolster its defences on the unsettled China border, deploying up to 50,000 troops and its most latest Su-30 fighter aircraft at a base in the northeast.

While upgrading the defences has been a long-running objective, the timing seemed to suggest New Delhi’s renewed fears of “strategic encirclement” by China by deepening ties with all of its neighbours, not just Pakistan but also Sri Lanka and Nepal.

The chief of the Indian air force, reflecting the anxieties in the security establishment, said China was a far bigger threat than Pakistan because so little was known about Beijing’s combat capabilities.

Predictably enough, the Indian military moves and statements drew a strong response from China’s official media warning that New Delhi’s tough new posture was dangerous if it thought it would compel China to cave in. Beijing was in a different league, both in terms of national power, economic scale and global influence, the media said.