The India-China partnership is an important determinant for both regional as well as global peace and development, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Jakarta on Monday.
Speaking on the theme of “India’s Growing Engagement with East Asia”, Mukherjee said the India-China equation was also key to Asia’s emergence as the “political and economic centre” of a new international order.
The Minister, who is on his first bilateral visit to Southeast Asia, addressed a key issue of interest to the region: India’s growing engagement with China at a time when the two countries are still trying to resolve their contentious border dispute.
“As India's largest neighbour and a key emerging player in the international arena, China remains an important priority of India's foreign policy. The rapidly growing trade and economic exchanges between the two countries are pointers to the fact that India and China are now constantly engaged in mutually rewarding pursuits…” a text of his speech said.
“While we remain fully conscious of our outstanding differences with China, including on the boundary question, the basic paradigm of our approach is to seek an all-round development of ties, without allowing these differences to define the agenda of the relationship. At the same time, we remain committed to proactively address these differences through peaceful dialogue on an equal footing,” Mukherjee remarked.
Admitting that some degree of healthy competition between the two countries was inevitable, particularly in the area of trade and commerce, Mukherjee echoed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s remarks that there was enough space and opportunity in the region and beyond for both India and China to grow together.
The External Affairs Minister also made a pointed reference to India’s relationship with Japan. “India also attaches high priority to strengthening relations with Japan and there has been a visible transformation in the political ambience of the relationship on both sides,” he said at a meeting co-hosted by the Indonesian Council on World Affairs and the Indian embassy.
Referring to Southeast Asian security questions, he pointed out that India had entered into bilateral arrangements with Thailand and Indonesia for joint coordinated patrols by the three navies in the Bay of Bengal at the mouth of the Malacca Straits.
“We are also ready to contribute to capacity building of littoral states in the area of maritime security,” the Minister added, without going into specifics.