Common interests with India far outweigh differences, says China
: China and India’s “common interests far outweigh differences”, and the two countries should put the differences on the border in its appropriate place and seek to resolve the dispute through dialogue and consultation, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi has said.
At his first meeting with Indian ambassador Pradeep Kumar Rawat, who was appointed as India’s envoy to China in March, in Beijing on Wednesday, Wang recalled the consensus reached between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping over multiple meetings, especially the two informal summits in Wuhan (2018) and Chennai (2019), that the two countries are partners and not competitors, saying the two sides should support rather than undermine each other and enhance trust rather than be suspicious.
On his part, Rawat “emphasised the criticality of maintenance of peace and tranquility in the border areas for realising the full potential of this consensus,” according to a statement from the Indian embassy on the meeting.
Wang’s meeting with Rawat ahead of the 14th Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit – which is being hosted online by Beijing – appears to be China’s attempt to convey a sense of solidarity within the group despite serious Sino-India bilateral differences.
Wang said the two sides “should meet each other halfway to push bilateral relations back onto the track of stable and healthy development at an early date…”
“China and India’s common interests far outweigh their differences… The two sides should support rather than undermine each other, strengthen cooperation rather than guard against each other, and enhance mutual trust rather than be suspicious of each other,” Wang was quoted as telling Rawat, according to a statement by the Chinese foreign ministry.
During the meeting, Wang put forward a four-point agenda to define and take forward China’s ties with India, which is going through its worst chill in the backdrop of the dragging military standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh since May 2020.
More than 24 months later, military deployment continues on both sides of the LAC in eastern Ladakh with troops disengaging only partially despite several rounds of diplomatic talks and negotiations between the armed forces.
New Delhi has consistently maintained complete disengagement and de-escalation of tension along the LAC for ties to normalise.
The four principles Wang mentioned included the requirement to follow the “important strategic consensus” reached by the top leadership of the two countries that “China and India are not competitors, but partners; and China and India will not pose threats to each other but mutual development opportunities”, the Chinese foreign ministry statement said.
“We should place the border issue at an appropriate position in bilateral relations and seek solutions through dialogue and consultation,” according to the second principle listed by Wang.
The remaining two principles were the need to expand “mutually beneficial cooperation” and to “expand multilateral cooperation”, and “jointly cope with the complex world situation”.
India’s tradition of independent foreign policy was reflected in a recent speech by external affairs minister, S Jaishankar, where the latter had expressed his disapproval of “Eurocentrism” and his hope that no external forces should interfere in China-India relations, Wang said.
The Chinese minister was referring to Jaishankar’s June 3 speech at the GLOBESEC 2022 Bratislava Forum where he said the world could no longer be “Eurocentric”, and that Europe needed to shun that mindset in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“A lot is happening outside Europe. There are so many human and natural disasters in our part of the world, and many countries look to India for help. The world is changing and new players are coming in. The world can’t be Eurocentric anymore,” Jaishankar had added in his speech, which was widely talked about and shared online and in Chinese official media.
Indian ambassador Rawat, according to the Chinese statement, said “India will firmly pursue an independent foreign policy, and is willing to work with China to adhere to the strategic consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen communication, properly handle differences, enhance mutual trust, and keep advancing bilateral cooperation.”
On Indian students
According to the Indian embassy statement, Wang recalled his meeting with Jaishankar in New Delhi in March this year and said China attaches importance to India’s concerns on the return of Indian students and that he hoped to see early progress on this.
“He (Wang) also referred to discussions on resumption of direct flight connectivity between the two sides. Ambassador Rawat conveyed that the relevant agencies in India are seized of the matter and we may see progress in the matter soon,” the Indian embassy statement said.
The Chinese minister was referring to the Indian students who study in China but are currently stranded in India in view of Chinese Covid-19 related restrictions on international travel.
Wang and Rawat agreed that the “two sides should make full use of the opportunities provided by multilateral meetings to continue their exchange of views, including between the two foreign ministers,” the statement added.