President Pranab Mukherjee called for a resolution of the festering Sino-India boundary problem on Thursday, saying the dispute should not be left as a burden on future generations.
Mukherjee said India and China have differences, but they should resolve the issues with “mutual satisfaction”.
He mentioned “Eight steps to a people-centric partnership” to develop India-China relations, including academic exchanges and tourism. Mukherjee stressed that enhanced political communication was needed between the two countries.
A disputed Line of Actual Control currently divides India and China along 3,488 km of mountainous terrain, but it has never been laid down on a map because the two countries have differing perceptions of the border.
“There are challenges, including the boundary question that still needs to be addressed comprehensively. While it is natural for neighbours to have a difference of views on certain issues from time to time, I consider it a test of our political acumen when we are called upon to draw upon our civilisational wisdom and resolve these differences to the mutual satisfaction of both sides,” Mukherjee said in his speech at the prestigious Peking University.
Recently, the US had said China had deployed more troops and enhanced its military capabilities along the border with India, though the Chinese state media said the Western press was trying to divide the two neighbours.
“Both sides should work with the aim of ensuring that we do not burden our coming generations by leaving our unresolved problems and differences to them. I am confident that by ensuring that these matters are not aggravated and by remaining sensitive to mutual concerns, we can minimise our differences and maximise our convergences,” Mukherjee said.
Mukherjee, who is on a four-day trip to China, will meet with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang later in the day. He is expected to raise all major bilateral issues plaguing the two countries during his talks with the top leaders of China.
“I would stress that political understanding between our two nations is vital for a closer developmental partnership. One of the ways it could be done is through enhanced political communication. In India, we have a bipartisan commitment to strengthening our partnership with China. The frequent contacts between our respective leaders bear testimony to this. We have broadened the ‘common ground’ and learned to manage our differences,” Mukherjee said.
He reiterated how India has traditionally helped China in its quest for becoming members of multilateral organsiaitons, indicating that New Delhi was looking for reciprocation, for one, in its quest for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
“In the last seven decades, our bilateral relations have been tested by difficulties and challenges; but the determination of the Indian people to safeguard their friendship with the people of China has visibly endured,” he said.
“It was demonstrated in India’s early recognition of the People’s Republic of China in December 1949, the establishment of our diplomatic relations in April 1950 and India’s constant public support through the ‘60s and ‘70s for the admission of the People’s Republic of China to the UN and the restitution of its Permanent Membership of the UN Security Council.”
Mukherjee also made a reference to the Indian system of governance and its democratic polity.
“Our system of participative governance is founded on the principles of tolerance, inclusiveness and consensus. Attempts to derail our peace through acts of terrorism have not shaken our faith. Our society is resilient and public interest is protected by a free media, an independent judiciary and a vibrant civil society.”
As many as 10 MoUs were signed by various universities from both countries to expand contacts and cooperation among academics and students.