Holding that the boundary dispute between India and China is “not an insurmountable issue”, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Monday said the two countries are committed for the “eradication” of such “irritants” from their relationship.
“It is a fact that we have an undefined boundary and therefore differences in perception, something that appears from time to time to become an insurmountable problem. But in our hearts, we know that it is not an insurmountable problem but also that both of us are committed for eradication and removal of these irritants in our relationship,” Mr. Khurshid said at an event in New Delhi.
The Minister’s statement comes in the backdrop of increased incidents of incursions along the LAC by the Chinese Army, after which the government had to explain its stand on the issue in Parliament and outside.
Chinese Minister of State Council Information Office Cai Mingzhao, who was also present at the event, said the two countries should focus more on the positive happenings between them.
Speaking at the inauguration of the India-China Media Forum, Mr. Khurshid said the 21st century is said to be the Asian century and “it is our firm belief that this dream will remain unfulfilled if India and China are unable to find congruence on important ways in which we think on global issues.”
The Minister said the two sides “need to talk more to know each other better to fructify the full potential of this relationship between them.”
He said the two countries have a had a “peaceful” co-existence for almost 4,000 years “but for a short interlude, that both of us feel must become quickly part of history as we look for significant cooperation between us in future.”
Speaking about the future of ties between India and China, Mr. Khurshid said, “It is important how we see each other.
Important thing is how we see ourselves.
“Will we see ourselves as rivals and competitors or will we see ourselves in multi-dimensional roles with each other collaborating, cooperating, competing, assisting, sharing and more importantly, if I can add an important word, ‘caring’ for each other,” he said.
The Minister said language is “important to reach out to each other, clear cobwebs of the misunderstandings of the past, present and even of the future.”
Commenting on the event, Mr. Khurshid said the media is a pillar of strength for India and its independence is an important dimension for its democracy.
“Media is a pillar of strength of our country and democracy. Not necessarily in agreement with the government...We hope this interaction (Media Forum) will help in constructive reporting and analysis methodology and understanding of each others’ working systems,” he said.
Noting that while reporting, there will be moments which will require critical care in conveying things that are important for both sides, the Minister urged media personnel from both sides to look at a possible methodology which allows trans-national or national interests to “prevail over the desire to report aggressively and extensively.”
He said such a mechanism “cannot be dictated” and can be developed from within our systems and through professional training.
On social media, Mr. Khurshid said the government is still learning to deal with it as it is unlike mediums of the past and hoped that Chinese experiences in this field would be educating for it.
Addressing the gathering, Chinese Minister of State Council Information Office Mingzhao said India and China’s interests have become intertwined and there is a great potential between the two countries for working together in the future which would be in their interest.
He said the media in the two countries should try to focus more on the positives in their relationship.
“More reports should be to push forward pragmatic cooperation between the two sides and help in efforts to handle complicated issues and bring in more positivity in the ties,” Mr. Mingzhao said.
He said there were only 20 journalists from India and China in each others’ territories and this was not enough to report about the developments between the two countries whose strategic partnership is growing.
“For some reasons, Chinese and Indian media still do not have sufficient understanding of each other’s country, still cannot fully reflect the current status of the friendly bilateral relations, and still cannot meet the two peoples’ demand for information about the other country,” he said.
Mr. Mingzhao also called for holding such media forums every year in India and China to enhance understanding between the journalists of the two countries who come from different cultures and backgrounds.
“I hope that they could gradually station more reporters in each other’s country, or send more reporters to each others’ countries to conduct interviews, meet local residents, and gather real, fresh and first-hand information,” he said.
The Media Forum is being held by the two sides with participation of journalists of India and China against the backdrop of China’s uneasiness over Indian media’s reporting about the face-offs and incursions along the LAC.