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Updated: December 8, 2010 01:58 IST

India a “partner not competitor”, says China

Ananth Krishnan
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Premier Wen Jiabao to arrive in New Delhi on December 15 on a three-day visit to India. File Photo
AP Premier Wen Jiabao to arrive in New Delhi on December 15 on a three-day visit to India. File Photo

A week ahead of the visit of its Premier Wen Jiabao to New Delhi, the Chinese government struck a positive note on its relations with India, stressing that the two countries were “partners rather than competitors.”

Mr. Wen is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on December 15 on a three-day visit to India, following which he will spend three days in Pakistan.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday the visits underscored China “maintaining a high-level of exchanges with neighbouring countries.”

“Both China and India are neighbours and partners, rather than competitors,” spokesperson Jiang Yu said.

Asked if the two sides could be expected to announce any progress in the long-running boundary negotiations following the recently concluded fourteenth round of talks, Ms. Jiang only repeated China’s stated position that the border dispute was “an issue left over by history.” The two sides had agreed to address their differences through dialogue and consultation and to seek a mutually acceptable solution, she added.

Mr. Wen will be travelling to Islamabad from New Delhi, following a practice set by his predecessors, who have always visited China’s “all-weather” ally following trips to India.

China and Pakistan were “good neighbours, partners and friends” who “enjoyed all-weather friendly relations”, Ms. Jiang said.

“To consolidate China-Pakistan relations is a priority of China’s diplomacy,” she added.

China and Pakistan would “deepen strategic cooperation and establish a mechanism for formal and structured dialogue at the ministerial-level” during Mr. Wen's visit, the official Associated Press of Pakistan reported. Mr. Wen is scheduled to address a joint sitting of the Pakistani parliament on December 18.

Indian officials have said that Mr. Wen choosing to travel to Pakistan following his trip to India would have no bearing on the outcome of his visit, pointing out that his doing so was expected and that he was following a long-established practice.

Officials have also stressed that with deepening engagement with China on a range of issues from trade to common global challenges like climate change, China's close ties to Pakistan were becoming less of an irritant. India would, however, strongly raise its concerns over specific issues such as Chinese investments in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and China's policies on Kashmir.

"We're no longer in an either-or, zero-sum game kind of situation,” National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon said during a visit to Beijing in July. “Our relationship with China is not dependent on the state of our relations with Pakistan, or vice-versa. And judging by what we have seen in practice over the last few years, I think that is also true of China.”

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Just as the Chinese foreign affairs ministry wishes us - both china and India - work as partners rather than as competitors (or hegemons), It is perhaps very essential that China takes into consideration of the aspirations of its neighbour India, with its 1.2 billion people proud of as ancient civilization as theirs. We have no doubt several problems between us and are determined, hopefully, to settle them over the table. It is an accepted fact that this millennium is for the Asian nations. Let China understand that it is not good for any of the Asian nations, if both the big nations are on terms that cannot be termed cordial with some problems remaining at a state at what they were some fifty years back. We do have different systems of governance; yet we should try to appreciate the views of others. For example, it is somewhat curious that China should issue a ‘diktat’ to the invitees for the forthcoming Nobel prize distribution function just because a Chinese dissident is one of the recipients. If China is prescribing such a test for the global nations on the single issue of how many are attending the function or missing it merely because China says so. In our case, in about a few weeks one of its leaders is visiting India. If India decides not to queer the pitch and ensure a smooth welcome for the Chinese leader by choosing to skip the Nobel function, it would have betrayed its 1.2 billion people. Regardless whatever the Indian government does sin its difficult situation such as this, the Chinese have shown themselves acting in consonance what the rhetoric of its finance ministry means. In 2008, when the Olympic torch was being carried through various nations, China made such a song and dance wanting even some dissident living in India to show a placard peacefully expressing their views against the Chinese behaviour. Thus, China has first to learn how to conduct itself peacefully and with dignity and decorum even as it is rising fast peacefully. Finally, more than word, actions count.

from:  s subramanyan
Posted on: Dec 8, 2010 at 11:27 IST
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