India, China can realise ‘Asian Century’: Sushma

"My government is committed to exploring an early settlement on the India-China border issue," said Sushma Swaraj

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:31 pm IST

Published - February 01, 2015 03:41 pm IST - BEIJING

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with Wang Yi, China Foreign Minister of in Beijing on Sunday.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with Wang Yi, China Foreign Minister of in Beijing on Sunday.

India has unveiled an ambitious agenda to elevate its ties with China, with External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj announcing a six-point proposal to jointly realise with Beijing, the dream of an “Asian Century”. In her first engagement of the morning in the Chinese capital, Ms. Swaraj said at the inaugural of the Second India-China Media Forum that a six-point template can enrich the civilizations of India and China in the modern era, resulting in the realisation of an “Asian Century”.

Listing out the proposals in alphabetical order A-F, Ms. Swaraj stressed that New Delhi-Beijing ties can reach the next level if both sides enforce an “action- oriented approach and a broad-based bilateral engagement”. She asserted that the two countries need to achieve “convergence on common regional and global interests” and “develop new areas of cooperation”. The two sides needed to “expand strategic communication” and “fulfil the common aspiration to usher and ‘Asian Century’,” Ms. Swaraj observed.

The visiting Minister announced that on the “boundary question” - an irritant in the relationship that triggered the 1962, Sino-Indian war - “my government is committed to exploring an early settlement”. Ms. Swaraj, who arrived in Beijing on Saturday night, after a stopover in Kunming, one of the starting points of the China’s Maritime Silk Road initiative and the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) economic corridor, also observed that the foundation had been laid to take the Sino-Indian “economic cooperation to a qualitatively new level”.

On its part, China acknowledged the Sino-Indian relations had entered a new period of “major-country relations,” a nuanced formulation reserved to describe Beijing’s ties with regional and global heavyweights, including the United States. Also speaking at the media-forum inaugural, China’s Jiang Jianguo, minister of state council information office quoted former leader Deng Xiaoping as saying that “only when China and India have developed will a real ‘century of Asia’ will emerge.” He substantiated Beijing’s aspirations by inviting India to participate in the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21 set century Maritime Silk Road—President Xi’s pet project to achieve Eurasian economic integration, based on a land and sea transportation network, complemented by a grid off energy pipelines, fiber-optic highways, industrial parks and smart cities. “With the ‘belt and road’ initiatives as wings, China wants to take off together with the countries involved,” said Mr. Jiang. India has so far backed the BCIM proposal that would connect Kolkata with Kunming-the capital of Yunnan province, which is the gateway to three ASEAN countries: Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. New Delhi also hosted a meeting of chief negotiators of the Asian Investment and Infrastructure Bank, signalling India’s full support to a China backed initiative that is likely to help support President Xi’s Silk Road projects.

Yet, China’s forays in the Indian Ocean, including Sri Lanka and Maldives, are impeding New Delhi full support for the MSR. “Our strategic dialogue with China has to broaden and deepen to address these concerns,” a diplomatic source told The Hindu . In her address Ms. Swaraj promised “to make it easier” for Chinese companies to do business in India, citing the establishment of two China-backed industrial parks in India, as an illustration of Bejing’s support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative to spur the manufacturing sector in India.

Article has been corrected for a factual error.

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