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China downplays border issues

world Updated: May 17, 2013 02:08 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Taking steps to resolve the border dispute and expanding trade relations between the two countries would be under focus when Premier Li Keqiang begins his visit to India coming Sunday, top Chinese officials said on Thursday.

Both countries, according to Song Tao, vice foreign minister, were working hard to find a solution to the festering border issue, which saw the two countries caught in a three-week standoff in Ladakh that ended earlier this month.

"We have a number of mechanisms available to us for resolving the boundary question such Special Representative consultations. We have both been working very hard to find a solution to at an early date," Song told reporters during a briefing on Premier Li's visit to four countries, beginning with India, on Sunday.

"There are some historical issues between China and India including the boundary questions but we believe…that we have more overlapping interests. That is also (the) consensus between leaders," Song said.

"We have signed political parameters on the border question and we have reached consensus on the framework for settling the issue," Song said.

He added that earlier this year President Xi Jinping met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the BRICS summit and Premier Li talked with Prime Minister Singh over phone after he took office. This frequent interaction between the top leaders show the importance that the leaders attach to the bilateral relations, he said.

China, Song said, has settled border questions with many neighbours.

"We are committed to resolving the border question with India through friendly consultations and we will work with the Indian side to make full use of available mechanisms together to find a fair, reasonable solution acceptable to both sides," he said.

On the issue of China-India trade, Jiang Yaoping, vice commerce minister said the current momentum of trade between the two countries should see the volume touching the $100 billion mark by 2015.

He said that by the end of March 2013, China had completed "cooperation projects" in India worth $35.1 billion.

"India has already become an important market for overseas cooperation projects for China. In the meantime, two way investment is also growing steadily," Jiang said

During Li's visit to India a strong Chinese business delegation will also be visiting India which will be followed by the signing of relevant business cooperation documents.

As part of the business-related programmes during Li's visit, the first China-India forum will be held besides a China-India business cooperation summit.

On the issue of trade imbalance between the two countries, Jiang said China was paying close attention to the issue and said Beijing will "provide facilitations for India to explore Chinese markets."

Jiang said: "I think we all know that in coming years, China will import a total of USD 10 trillion worth of produce and make an investment of USD 500 billion. We hope that Indian side will take a proportionate share in China's imports and outward investments and China is ready to work with the Indian side to tap into potential of bilateral trade and two-way investment so that we can gradually resolve issue of trade deficit."

On Li visit to Pakistan, Song said the Premier will meet President Asif Ali Zardari and leader Nawaz Sharief, who is set to become Pakistan's next Prime Minister.

Song said Li's visit to Pakistan will take the relationship between the two countries to a more comprehensive level.

China attaches great importance to energy cooperation with Pakistan and will continue to help Islamabad in the sector.