GUANGZHOU: India and China have areas of differences but it has always been New Delhi’s attempt to reduce the divergence and expand cooperation, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday as he began his four-day visit to the country.
“The basic cardinal principle of India’s foreign policy is to recognise divergences…we have never indulged in expanding the divergences but reducing the divergences and expanding the areas of agreement,” Mukherjee said in his address to around 400 members of the Indian diaspora here in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province.
Indirectly referring to China’s decision to block India’s inclusion in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Mukherjee said India had always supported Beijing’s inclusion in international organisations. India, he said, believed that China’s presence must be there in multilateral organisations as otherwise a huge population will be left unrepresented.
He said cooperation between India and China was expanding in almost every field — economic and political — and in various bilateral and multilateral fora.
Mukherjee said the development of Sino-India relations has been “phenomenal” in the last two decades, adding that bilateral trade has gone up from around $2.9 billion in 2000 to more than $71 billion last year. “But we are not satisfied because we do believe there is immense potential for trade and investment between the two countries,” he said.
Mukherjee’s visit takes place even as the two neighbours continue to negotiate old and new disputes amid the promise of closer economic ties and narrowing diplomatic differences. For one, the dispute over the 3,488km border continues to cast a shadow over bilateral relations.
Mukherjee is heading a delegation that includes the minister of state for textiles, SK Gangwar, four Members of Parliament, diplomats and journalists. The President said his delegation represented the “multi-party democratic system of India”.
After delivering a keynote address at a business forum here on Wednesday, Mukherjee will fly to Beijing for a series of bilateral meetings with top Chinese leaders, beginning with President Xi Jinping.
Mukherjee said PM Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping will have the opportunity to meet each other and share their views at the G20 summit, to be held in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in September.