A day after US President Barack Obama backed a permanent seat for India in the United Nations Security Council and ahead of Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to New Delhi next month, Beijing said it was ready for consultations with India on the issue of reforming the UNSC.
China said it understood India's aspirations for a greater role in the UN and backed "democratic and patient" consultations to reach a consensus to "narrow differences" on UNSC reform.
China is the only permanent member of the UNSC that has not publicly declared support for India's candidature. The other four - the US, the UK, Russia and France - all have. China supports "reasonable and necessary reform of the UNSC", said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei at a regular media briefing on Tuesday.
"China will maintain priority to giving more representation to developing countries so they can play a bigger role in the Security Council," he said.
The statement was similar to recent cautious responses to New Delhi, which has sought greater understanding of India's bid from Beijing.
"China values India's status in international affairs and understands India's aspiration to play a greater role in the UN," said Hong, adding reforms negotiations should "narrow differences, safeguard unity and realise a win-win scenario".
"It is good the US will support India. India is a responsible actor in its own way," Shen Dingli, a South Asia strategist in Shanghai's Fudan University, told Hindustan Times.
"China will take its own position on the UNSC reform and bilateral relationship with India," Rong Ying, vice-president of the China Institute for International Studies, a foreign ministry think-tank, said.
Obama has "handed Indians a cheque that cannot be easily cashed," wrote a columnist on the People's Daily website of the Communist Party newspaper.
China strongly opposes the permanent UNSC entry of Japan, which is a part of the G4 including India, Brazil, and Germany.
India's external affairs ministry would not react officially to China's overture.
"These issues are all part of ongoing negotiations," said sources.
(With Delhi inputs)