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China’s aggression baffling: Manmohan

india Updated: Nov 25, 2009 03:23 IST
Varghese K George
Varghese K George
Hindustan Times
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Certain “assertiveness on the part of China” was inexplicable though China and India have agreed for a peaceful settlement of all outstanding issues between the two countries, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“World has to come to terms with the peaceful rise of China… However, there is a certain assertiveness on the part of China. I am unable to understand it. It should be taken note of,” Singh said addressing a gathering of American policy makers and intellectuals at think tank Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

Singh’s statement is the strongest Indian response to China’s aggressive posturing in recent months ranging from raising the noise on the border dispute to issuing stapled visas to Indian passport holders from Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh’s explanation of the Chinese behaviour was clearly targeted at his American hosts, who India suspects are increasingly accommodative of the Chinese positions. A joint statement during President Barack Obama’s state visit to China from November 15 to 19 had agreed to jointly “promote peace, stability and development” in South Asia, in the context of India and Pakistan. India had seen it in conflict with the country’s position that there is “no scope or requirement for a third party role” in resolving India-Pak conflict.

“The US wants to keep the Chinese in good humour, given the economic clout it has attained, particularly in a global slowdown,” pointed out C Raja Mohan, the Kissinger Scholar in Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress.

The PM pointed out the difference between India and China and the similarities between India and the US. Singh said “GDP alone” could not be the benchmark of a country’s progress. “There are certain values and principles too. China’s economic growth has been superior to us. But India does not want to adopt the Chinese model. We have our own model where human rights, religious freedom, democracy and multiculturalism are appreciated. Reforms in a democratic set-up are far more effective,” Singh said, answering questions at CFR.

In his written speech, the PM reminded the American audience of the shared values between the two countries. “Both India and the US draw strength from their common values of respect for cultural diversity, democracy, freedom of expression and the rule of law.”

Ready to talk to Pakistan?

Three days away from the first anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks, the PM said Pakistan’s “selective approach to terrorism, tackling it in one place while ignoring it in others,” will not work. However, if Pakistan comes to the “table with good faith and sincerity,” India is “ready to pick up the threads of the dialogue,” said the PM. India had suspended the dialogue with Pakistan after Mumbai attacks.

‘Iran can’t have weapons’

The PM avoided a direct reply to a question whether India will support a UN sanction against Iran if the country does not come clean on charges of nuclear proliferation. “India has always upheld UN decisions,” he said. The PM added that as a signatory to NPT, Iran has a right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes but not weapons.