Underlining that there is “positive impetus” in bilateral ties, China has pitched for enhancing trade and investment with India as part of joint efforts to bring relations, stressed by the Ladakh impasse, back on the track.
In a pointed message, China also urged India to reiterate its support for the ‘One-China’ policy in the wake of the Taiwan crisis and underscored that it is the basis of political relations with India and the world.
India and China are seeing a “positive impetus” in ties, and are actively cooperating in multilateral fora such as BRICS, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong told senior journalists at a round-table discussion at the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi on August 13.
The envoy alluded to two meetings between the Foreign Ministers in the past few months and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s virtual participation in the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit hosted by China to underline the point that the two sides have been making joint efforts to improve bilateral relations with a view to bringing them on the track.
Alluding to the congratulatory letter from President Xi to India’s newly elected President Droupadi Murmu, he said the “leaders’ guidance” has an “irreplaceable role” in relations between the two countries.
Stressing that Beijing looks at India-China relations from a “long-term and strategic perspective,” Ambassador Sun spoke about growing cooperation between the two Asian neighbours in BRICS. “BRICS showed a convergence of interests. BRICS cooperation has achieved fruitful outcomes,” said the envoy.
China-India relations go beyond the bilateral domain and includes cooperation on global issues such as food security, energy security and climate change, he said. If China and India speak in one voice, the whole world will listen,” he said.
Striking an optimistic note on the future trajectory of China-India relations, the ambassador argued for increasing trade and investment. Alluding to a sharp increase in bilateral trade to over $120 billion last year despite the pandemic and the Ladakh crisis, the Chinese ambassador said that “the development of China is an opportunity for India and vice-versa.” “It shows the complementarities between the economies of China and India. It’s a mutually beneficial cooperation, Ambassador Sun said in response to a question from India Writes Network. “China and India can benefit from trade and investment. We welcome suitable Indian exports,” replied the envoy when asked about how China planned to address the growing trade deficit with India.
When the Covid situation improves, there will be more opportunities (for trade and investment), he said. Against the backdrop of recent steps reported to have been taken by the Indian government to curb Chinese investment, the ambassador urged India to provide an “open, fair and non-discriminatory environment” for Chinese companies. China and India should work for common prosperity of our two people, he said.
“Border situation stable”
Looking ahead, Mr. Sun said that China expects to welcome back Indian students to resume their studies in the country in the “near future”. In his first interaction with the media since the continuing stand-off at the LAC for more than two years, Mr. Sun stressed that the situation at the LAC at present is “overall stable”, and efforts are on to resolve the issue.
“Since 2020 we have kept diplomatic and military channels open and kept a series of meetings of corps commanders that have resulted in disengagement in some parts. Currently the border is overall stable, and the 16th round of talks (on July 17) ended with a joint statement issued where both sides agreed to continue the talks,” Mr. Sun said. The envoy’s remarks came a day after India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar had said that the India-China relationship “cannot be normal as the border situation is not normal,” adding that LAC tensions could lead to a “dangerous situation”, and more talks were needed.
Urging India to support China’s efforts to maintain its sovereignty, the Chinese envoy said that the One-China principle is the “political foundation of China-India relations.”
“My understanding is that India’s ‘One China’ policy has not changed…We hope that India can reiterate support for the ‘One China principle,” he told journalists a day after External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi carefully avoided mentioning the ‘One-China’ policy, and confined himself to saying that India’s position on “relevant” policies is well-known and consistent and they do not require reiteration. India continues to abide by the ‘One China’ policy, but it has not reiterated the same publicly or in bilateral documents for more than a decade. “We do hope that the Indian side will continue to stick to its independent foreign policy, understand and support China’s just position and its efforts to maintain sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Ambassador Sun said.
Responding to questions, the envoy drew a distinction between the Taiwan issue and the India-China boundary issue. “Taiwan question is different from the boundary question between China and India. The Taiwan question is truly an internal affair because Taiwan has always been and will always be a part of China. This is a fact and nobody can change it.”
Taking a strong stand against US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan, the Chinese envoy called the US “the culprit of the Taiwan crisis,” and denounced the US’ efforts to undermine the sovereignty of China. “This was a very dangerous political provocation China’s reaction is perfectly proportionate and justified,” he said.
“The Chinese government has officially released a white paper titled The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era. The white paper gives a comprehensive overview of the history, policies and propositions on the Taiwan question, with the aim to set the record straight and send the most authoritative message to the world,” he said.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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