The auditorium was packed with mid-level and future leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC) who shape and determine the country’s public policies. And Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — the first Indian leader to address the elite Central Party School of the CPC — made his point clear to them on Thursday: concerns like border incidents, trans-border rivers and trade imbalance existed but the future should be "defined by cooperation and not confrontation."
In a speech that did not shy away from listing bilateral problems, Singh said the issues can become "impediments to the full exploitation of the opportunities for bilateral and multilateral cooperation between India and China, important for the progress and transformation of our two countries."
Singh outlined seven principles of engagement, which according to him, would bring the two countries with a history of indifferent diplomatic ties closer.
Topping the engagement wish-list was the need to be "sensitive to each other core concerns and a commitment to resolving all outstanding issues through peaceful dialogue." Referring to the philosophy of "Panchsheel", he said the relationship between the two countries should in the spirit of "mutual respect, sensitivity to each other’s interests and sovereignty and mutual and equal spirit."
What followed on the list was one of India’s core concerns: the disputed border.
Singh said peace at the border was the "cornerstone of our relationship", indicating in an assertive manner that incidents along the 4000 km boundary will only heighten tension. "We should do nothing to disturb that (the peace at the border). Indeed we can achieve it by adhering to our agreements and utilising our bilateral mechanisms effectively. At the same time, we should move quickly to resolve our boundary issue."
Singh’s significant speech comes a day after New Delhi and Beijing signed nine accords including one on border and another on trans-border river issues.
China hails landmark border agreement
The Sino-India border pact signed between the two countries on Wednesday was the highlight of Singh’s visit, China said.
The Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA), one of nine agreements that India and China signed at the Great Hall of the People, outlines the steps that both countries will take to enhance cooperation along the disputed border area and prevent situations between border patrols from escalating.
The BDCA had been the focus of talks between the two governments after New Delhi accused Chinese soldiers of entering Indian territory and pitching tents across the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The incident occurred weeks before Premier Li Keqiang’s India visit, casting dark shadow on diplomatic ties.
In that context, BDCA is being seen as effort to prevent similar incidents from recurring; or if it does, then a way to swiftly resolve it.
The deal is built on previous agreements made in 1993, 1996 and 2005 that recognize the principle of mutual and equal security.
Hua Chunying, foreign ministry spokesperson, said the agreement showed both sides have the capacity to solve differences in the border areas and maintain overall peace and stability.