Reconsider approach on issues holding us back: PM Narendra Modi tells China

  • Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times, Beijing
  • Updated: May 15, 2015 14:26 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday urged the Chinese leadership to adopt a fresh approach to contentious issues affecting relations between India and China so that the two sides could play a greater role on the world stage.

Modi described the India-China relationship in recent decades as “complex” but said both sides are committed to set a "new direction between the two largest Asian countries".

Speaking alongside his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang after the two countries signed 24 agreements, Modi said both sides had agreed to continue to explore a "fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution" of their dragging border dispute. He also sought tangible progress on issues related to the visa policy and trans-border rivers.

"I am pleased to visit China in the first year of my government. This is one of our most important strategic partnerships…The re-emergence of India and China and their relationship will have a profound impact on the two countries and the course of this century," he said.

He said he had found the Chinese leadership "responsive" to his suggestion that China take a strategic and long-term view of bilateral relations. "I stressed the need for China to reconsider its approach on some of the issues that hold us back from realising full potential of our partnership," he added.

"On the boundary question, we agreed that we continue to explore a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution. We both reiterated our strong commitment to make all efforts to maintain peace and tranquility in the border region," he said.

Indian PM Narendra Modi talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during their meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China (Reuters)

Modi said he had found sensitivity to Indian concerns on the boundary issue and interest in intensifying confidence-building measures.

"I also reiterated the importance of clarification of Line of Actual Control in this regard," he said. "I sought tangible progress on issues relating to visa policy and trans-border rivers. I also discussed some of our regional concerns."

Modi said the two sides had agreed that they "should be sensitive to each other's interests; strengthen mutual trust and confidence; continue to manage our difference with maturity; and seek solutions to outstanding issues."

The Prime Minister noted that another area of high priority is people-to-people contacts because "Indians and Chinese don't know each other well, much less understand each other."

"We have decided to take the relationship out of the narrow confines of governments in the national capitals to states, cities and our people," he said.

In this connection, India has launched a "State and Provincial Leaders' Forum" with China. The Year of India in China and the Year of China in India will expand tourism between the two countries, he added.

Modi said his discussions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li had helped in working towards a new direction for bilateral ties.

"Our conversations were candid, constructive and friendly. We covered all issues, including those that trouble smooth development of our relations," he said.

He also referred to economic cooperation, including in specific railway projects, and the two Chinese industrial parks in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

"Both leaders were very supportive about increased Chinese participation in our Make in India mission and infrastructure sector. In Shanghai tomorrow, we will see over twenty ventures in the private sector take concrete shape," he said.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was welcomed by Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People as the Indian leader began his day-long engagements in Beijing.

A military Guard of Honour was extended to the Indian leader after he reached the Great Hall of the People, the Chinese Parliament, in the heart of the city.

Modi inspected the Guard of Honour as the Indian and Chinese national anthems were played by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military band.

Li will host a banquet in Modi’s honour at the Great Hall of the People.

Subsequently, Modi will meet Zheng Dejiang, chairman of the National People’s Congress’ standing committee.

Following extended talks during the first half of the day, Modi will address students at the prestigious Tsinghua University, where he is also expected to take part in a question-and-answer session.

Later, he will attend a Yoga-Taichi performance inside the premises of the Temple of Heaven in Beijing.

On Thursday, Modi spent his day in Xian , the capital of the Shaanxi province.

"The Terracotta Army is a heritage of the world. It is a testimony to China's civilizational achievements," Modi wrote in the visitors book at the site, adding that he was "deeply impressed" by the way the warriors had been preserved.

State media quoted Xi as saying: "Our relations have developed steadily."

He added that neighbors should look at their ties from a strategic viewpoint and take a long-term approach, and enhance "strategic cooperation" over international and regional affairs.

"India sees China as a great neighbor," Modi was quoted as saying by the state media, adding that he expects to raise the relationship to a higher level.

Zhao Gancheng, an expert on South Asian studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, was quoted by the China Daily newspaper as saying that deciding how to deal with China is a challenging yet important issue for the Indian government.

The elite in India have reached a consensus that to achieve peaceful development, India has to handle the relationship with China well," Zhao added.

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