Chinese officials have welcomed this week's scheduled meeting between the Prime Ministers of India and China in Rio de Janeiro as an opportunity to strike common ground with India, with both countries facing “similar pressure” on a host of contentious global issues.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on the sidelines of Wednesday's Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, where India, China and other developing nations will press the West to provide more financing and technological support.

Common challenges

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng told a briefing on Monday that the two leaders were likely to discuss common sustainable development challenges faced by their large developing nations that have been under particular pressure from the West to do more to boost their environmental commitments.

“On the issue of international sustainable development, our two countries have many common understandings,” Mr. Xie said. “We are under similar pressure and in front of similar challenges. So I believe if leaders from both countries can have a bilateral meeting during the conference it will help the two countries address challenges in sustainable development. It will help both countries reach more consensus… and will have a positive influence on the international efforts to address sustainable development challenges.”

The details and specifics of the meeting between the two leaders “are still being discussed,” Mr. Xie said.

Tan Jian, a Counsellor at the Foreign Ministry on climate change and trade issues, said, to a question from The Hindu, China shared India's concerns on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the summit will discuss, reiterating the basic principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, non-binding targets and equity.

“China adopts an open attitude on the issue [of SDGs],” he said. “Our position on any compulsory index is that the real principle should be adhered to, especially common but differentiated responsibilities. In particular, the national conditions of various countries should be taken into account, especially the needs of developing countries. Their concerns should be addressed and this is our basic position.”

India's concerns

Mr. Xie stressed that developed countries “should fulfil commitments for financing support, technology and capacity building,” acknowledging that “old issues” such as lack of additional financing from developed countries and access to technology were still “waiting for a solution.” He also warned of concerns, recently voiced by India, of “behaviours of protectionism under the pretext of a green economy.”

Taking the lead

The called on developed countries to “take the lead in taking action, change their unsustainable production and consumption patterns and pursue the path to green development, and at the same time, with regard to financing, technology and capacity building help developing countries develop a green economy.”

“Developing countries on their part,” he added, “should design and implement sustainable development strategies suited to their national conditions.”

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