BEIJING: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao’s meeting in Hanoi sent out a “positive” signal ahead of the Chinese Premier’s India visit as they agreed to seek “a just and reasonable” solution to the border issue, the official media here said today.
“Beijing and New Delhi on Friday agreed to seek a just and reasonable resolution to their border dispute, sending out a positive note ahead of Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India later this year,” ‘China Daily’ said in its report on yesterday’s Singh-Wen meeting , titled ‘Seeking Consensus on Border Dispute.”
It noted that Wen said during the meeting, which took place on the margins of the ASEAN Summit, that there is enough space in the world for both China and India to develop and cooperate and that he is willing to visit New Delhi to celebrate 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.”
The daily said that after their closed-door discussions, Wen and Singh reached a “consensus” on maintaining the “peace and calm of border areas” and expressed willingness to explore ways to solve border conflicts in the spirit of mutual respect and understanding.
“Wen also said China is willing to work with India on major global issues to protect the interests of developing countries,” it said, highlighting Singh’s comments that Beijing and New Delhi are friends rather than rivals and bilateral ties have brought substantive benefits to the people of the two countries.
In a detailed report on the meeting, Xinhua news agency said both the leaders agreed to take into consideration each other’s concerns, maintain peace at borders and work for just settlement of border dispute.
“Based on the spirit of peace and friendship, equality and consultation and mutual respect and understanding, China and India would take into consideration each other’s concerns and work for an equitable and just settlement of border issues that was acceptable to both sides,” it said.
Both China Daily and Xinhua made no reference to the contentious issues like stapled visas being issued by China to Kashmiris.
Officials here regard the reference about addressing “mutual concerns” significant as it gives hope that China perhaps would address New Delhi’s key concerns before Wen’s visit to New Delhi in December.
Also Wen’s assertion that the two countries will “reach consensus” on “some major aspects” before his visit to India gives an impression that China could initiate some moves to assuage India’s feelings.
The Xinhua report quoted Wen as saying that China is willing to work with India to give full play to bilateral economic and trade cooperation and strive for a continuous growth of trade and investment by enlarging areas of cooperation, which Indian officials hope would translate into more business for Indian companies in China to reduce the trade imbalance.
Wen also said that China and India should safeguard the interests of developing countries through better coordination while addressing global issues, such as the reform of the international financial system, climate change, energy and food security, prevention of natural disasters and relief efforts and combating terrorism, Xinhua said.
In addition to this, proactive and effective measures should be taken to push forward cultural exchanges, including those between the media and the youth of both countries, which could strengthen both mutual understanding and public support for bilateral ties, Wen said.
The Chinese Premier also said the world was not only large enough for the development side-by-side of both countries, but offered enough areas in which both sides could cooperate.
Commenting on the meeting, some Chinese analysts said that as developing countries, China and India have overlapping interests on a range of important issues, including global economic recovery and climate change.
Therefore, the prospects for bilateral ties remain promising, Du Youkang, head of Fudan University’s Centre for South Asia Studies, said.
“China and India have reached the consensus that they need to create a favorable external environment for the sake of domestic economic growth,” Fu Xiaoqiang, a scholar in South Asia studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said.
“It is not surprising they have territorial disputes as they are both big neighboring countries. But the two nations should learn to properly handle sensitive regional issues to avoid unnecessary conflicts,” Fu said.
The two nations need to focus more on building trust and people-to-people exchanges, which are insufficient compared to close economic links, Fu said.