China, India stress on partnership, opportunities; reject being rivals or threats


China, India stress on partnership, opportunities; reject being rivals or threats

  China and India must consider each other as “opportunities for development” and not as “threat”, the Chinese Foreign Ministry asserted on Monday, echoing the recent statements of Indian Ambassador to China in which he stressed that the Asian neighbors are “partners in development” and not “rivals”.

“I think the Chinese government’s position remain consistent. Indeed, we believe China and India, as two large neighboring countries and developing countries in Asia, should regard each other as opportunities for their own development rather than threats. And leaders of both sides have reached consensus on this,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing.

“We, of course, are willing to take India as our partner, strengthen exchange and cooperation with India at various levels and in various areas, and enhance amicable feelings between the two peoples and mutual trust via such exchange and cooperation, so as to lay a solid social and public opinion foundations for cooperation in various areas and to create a good environment for the two sides to better and more properly handle the differences between the two countries,” she elaborated.

India’s Ambassador to China, Gautam Bambawale, delivers a speech to mark his country’s Republic Day at the Indian Embassy in Beijing, China, January 26, 2018. /Photo via Embassy of India

Hua’s remarks came in response to Indian Ambassador Gautam Bambawale’s interview to China’s Global Times last week in which he drew on the historic civilizational linkages to dismiss the notion of fierce rivalry between the two nations. Taking note of the recent differences, particularly last summer’s Donglang border standoff, the Indian diplomat stressed that these could be ironed out with enhanced trust and understanding and conversations.

“India and China are ancient civilizations. We have had exchanges and interactions over several centuries. For the bulk of this period, India and China have interacted peacefully with each other. We have not merely exchanged goods but also ideas. In the 21st century, we have re-emerged as major powers in the world from a geo-economic and geo-political perspective. The India-China relationship is important to both countries,” Bambawale told the Chinese newspaper.

Stressing that in such a long-term perspective, the Donglang standoff appears just a minuscule incident, the Indian envoy pushed for more dialogue between both the nations to build trust and confidence. He counted on the experience and wisdom of the leadership and the people of both nations to overcome “such momentary hurdles in our relationship”.

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Xiamen, southeast China’s Fujian Province, September 5, 2017. /Xinhua Photo‍

“I believe that in the post-Donglang period, India and China need to be talking to each other and conversing with each other much more than in the past. This should be done at many different levels, including at the leadership level, the official level and the people-to-people level. Such communication should be frank, candid and open,” he said.

“We need to be talking and communicating with each other much more than we are doing. Such communication should be frank, candid and open. If we are able to do so successfully, we will understand each other much better and we will build trust and confidence in each other. With enhanced trust and understanding will come a stronger partnership between India and China. I would like to say that India and China are partners in development and progress. We are not rivals,” he asserted.

Beijing refutes Indian claims on CPEC, border

The Indian ambassador however reiterated New Delhi’s stand of maintaining the status quo in the border areas, including Donglang, and on the contentious matter of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which India sees as violating its territorial claims.

“In our conversations and discussions, it is important to talk to each other and not talk past each other. We must be sensitive to the other side’s concerns. Our interaction must be based on equality and mutual benefit. Also, in the India-China border areas, especially at some sensitive points, it is important not to change the status quo. We need to be clear about this,” Bambawale said.

Indian soldiers are seen after a snowfall at the India-China border near Nathu La, 55 kilometers north of Gangtok, capital of Sikkim, India, on January 17, 2009. /Reuters Photo

“Secondly, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passes through Indian-claimed territory [in the disputed region of Kashmir] and hence violates our territorial integrity. This is a major problem for us. We need to talk about it, not push it under the carpet. I believe, the more we talk to each other, the easier it will become to resolve problems,” he added.

Refuting the Indian envoy’s assertion on both the sensitive issues, Hua expressed Beijing’s commitment for dialogue with New Delhi towards resolving the differences.

Asserting Chinese sovereignty over Donglang, she said: “We have said many times that the Sikkim section of the China-India boundary has been defined by the historical convention, and the Donglang area belongs to China and has always been under China’s effective jurisdiction.”

“China has made it clear that China will continue to exercise its sovereign rights in the Donglang area in accordance with the stipulations of the historical convention and unswervingly safeguard its territorial sovereignty. The Chinese side’s infrastructure construction activities in the Donglang area are affairs within the sovereignty of China and are completely legal, legitimate and indisputable,” she added.

Pakistani soldiers and Chinese staff pose for a photo together during the opening of a trade project in Gwadar port, west of Karachi, on November 13, 2016. The port is a key part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). /VCG Photo

On India’s objection to CPEC, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson stressed that the project targets no third country. “We’ve said many times that the CPEC is a project for economic cooperation, pure and simple. It involves no territorial disputes and targets no third parties. We hope that the Indian side could view this issue in an objective light,” she said.

Referring to the decades-long dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, which is at the root of New Delhi’s opposition to CPEC, Hua expressed hope that the South Asian neighbors will come to an acceptable solution.

“Whether it is a dispute between two persons or between two states, what is important is for the two sides to demonstrate sincerity, adopt a flexible attitude, uphold the principle of equality and mutual respect, improve mutual understanding and mutual trust through dialogue, and seek ways to properly handle and manage disputes,” she said.

“China stands ready to remain in dialogue and communication with India so as to properly control them and seek a solution acceptable to the two sides. They shall not be allowed to influence the long-term development of bilateral relations. That would be the best way to serve the interests of the two sides,” she added.

Military meeting: Signs of thawing ties

Meanwhile post-Donglang, Indian and Chinese local military commanders met for the first time on India’s Republic Day on Friday.

Confirming the reports, Hua said: “Commanders of border forces of China and India held a meeting on border defense on Jan. 26 to celebrate India’s Republic Day. The Chinese side holds that increasing communication and contacts between border forces is conductive to enhancing mutual understanding and trust, and to jointly safeguarding the peace and tranquility of border areas.”

“China is willing to work with India to continuously increase exchanges and cooperation between border forces and safeguard the peace and stability of border areas, so as to create a good environment for both countries’ development,” she added.

In his Republic Day speech at the Indian Embassy in Beijing, Bambawale hailed the achievements of bilateral relations despite facing “sensitive situations” last year.

“2017 has been a significant year in India-China relations. It has been a year of challenges but also one of many achievements. Our two countries handled some sensitive situations with great maturity and wisdom,” he said.

“Simultaneously, there have been successes in our bilateral ties too. Dangal, the Bollywood movie from India, became one of the highest earning non-Chinese language films in China. Conversely, the Chinese firm Xiaomi became the largest supplier of mobile phone handsets in the Indian market. India looks forward to building on these successes in 2018,” he said citing the key instances of mutual benefits, while also seeking China’s participation in the “national goals” of India.

The Chinese poster of Bollywood movie Dangal, which was the highest earning non-Chinese language film in China last year.

“[Indian] Prime Minister Modi has launched a ‘Make in India’ program for increasing the share of manufacturing in our GDP (gross domestic product). We would like to learn from China how to do so and how to position ourselves within global value chains. You are aware that Chinese telecom companies have been very successful in India. We would like them to manufacture at least some of their products in India,” Bambawale said.

“Similarly, India has embarked on a program of ‘Smart Cities’. Do you think it would be possible for Chinese companies to assist us in one or two of these new ‘Smart Cities’? Perhaps, some Indian IT firms can assist with China’s plans on big data,” he added.

The Indian diplomat also emphasized India and China share common position and goals on many international and global issues.

“The prime example is that of climate change. We have been working together on this subject in the past and under the new international circumstances it is especially important that we continue to work together,” he said, congratulating “the city authorities of Beijing for the clean air that we have been experiencing in the city this winter.”

Counting counter-terrorism among other areas of mutual interests, Bambawale said: “Both India and China are threatened by international terrorism. We must continue to work in tandem in our counter-terrorism efforts. I would even suggest that we need to expand our cooperation in counter-terrorism.”

“India and China have benefited from globalization which provides a common platform for both our countries. We both should ensure that the global values and rules which have benefited us should continue to be upheld and promoted. Global rules of interaction among nation states must be maintained,” he added.



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