Exchanges in other fields will continue, taking the relationship forward: official

Exchanges between India and China will remain unaffected by disagreements over individual issues, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, during a week in which two high-profile Indian delegations are visiting Beijing amid renewed strains in the relationship.

The two countries, in talks this week, explored taking forward cooperation in education and infrastructure projects, with Minister of Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal and Minister of Road Transport and Highways Kamal Nath leading delegations here.

The visits come after ties strained following China's decision to refuse a visa for Lieutenant General B.S. Jaswal, chief of the Army's Northern Command, following which defence exchanges had been temporarily suspended.

‘Misunderstanding'

A Chinese official downplayed the disagreement over the visa refusal, describing it as a “misunderstanding or miscommunication.” The official stressed that exchanges in other fields would continue, taking the relationship forward.

“From the Chinese point of view, we believe that China and India are neighbours and two emerging powers,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said at a regular briefing. “Strengthening cooperation and building mutual trust is beneficial to the two peoples, and is also conducive to reaching world peace and development.'

She said China and India “had exchanges at all levels and all fields.”

“We hope individual incidents will not affect the overall interest and overall development of China-India relations,” she added.

Chinese officials and scholars in government-affiliated think-tanks have, in recent days, sought to play down the visa row. Officials have also denied that China had recalibrated its position on the Kashmir issue, amid suggestions that the refusal of the visa — following the issuing of stapled visas to Indian citizens from Jammu and Kashmir last year — had indicated increased Chinese support to Pakistan's claims over the disputed region.

‘Show greater maturity'

Shen Dingli, a leading Chinese strategic analyst and executive dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, told The Hindu in a recent interview that the visa row would not affect the overall relationship. He did, however, warn that both countries needed to show greater “maturity” in taking the relationship forward amid persisting differences.

“I hope China, India and Pakistan would have maturity in developing win-win-win relationships,” he said.

‘Solid relationship'

Rong Ying, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, a think-tank affiliated with the Foreign Ministry, described the relationship as being “solid” enough to withstand differences, when asked about the visa row.

“The two sides need to work together on the basis of what we have already achieved,” he said. “We should look at the big picture, and there is no doubt that the overall relationship is developing.”

China's State-run media have also been largely silent over the visa row, and according to officials, have been instructed to play down differences with India in their coverage.

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