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China: We understand India's nuclear needs

China-India relations have maintained a sound momentum of comprehensive development in recent years, says Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue to HT's Neelesh Misra, ahead of his India visit beginning Monday.

world Updated: Sep 07, 2008 01:42 IST
Neelesh Misra

Q1.Where do China-India relations stand?

Ans: China-India relations have maintained a sound momentum of comprehensive development in recent years. There are three milestones in the advancement of our bilateral relations. During Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India in 2005, the two sides decided to establish a strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity.

In 2006 when President Hu Jintao visited India, the two sides formulated the "ten strategies" to deepen their strategic and cooperative partnership. Then, in January of this year, Prime Minister Singh paid a successful visit to China and the two sides signed A Shared Vision for the 21st Century of the People's Republic of China and the Republic of India, marking another major step forward in their bilateral relations.

Q2. What are the key areas of collaboration?

Ans: China and India have comprehensive and steady cooperation and exchanges in various fields. First, political exchanges between the two sides are closer. Leaders of the two sides maintain regular meetings in bilateral and multilateral fora. Exchanges between parliaments and political parties and at local levels are also on the rise. Second, business cooperation has become a highlight. In the first half of 2008, the two-way trade reached US$29 billion, up by 68.7% over the corresponding period of last year. It is the fastest growth rate among China's top 10 trading partners. During Prime Minister Singh's visit to China, the two sides announced the agreement to raise the trade target for 2010 from US$40 billion to US$60 billion.

The feasibility study on a Regional Trading Arrangement has been finished. Third, defense cooperation is expanding. In 2006, the Memorandum of Understanding for Exchanges and Cooperation in the Field of Defense was signed between the two defense ministries. In 2007, the two countries held the first round of defense dialogue and first joint anti-terrorist training between their armed forces. Fourth, people-to-people exchanges are more dynamic. In the year 2007, which was designated as the "China-India Year of Friendship Through Tourism", personnel exchanges increased steadily, involving 532,000 persons.

There are more exchanges in the fields of culture, education, tourism, youth affairs and sports. Fifth, multilateral cooperation is proceeding steadfastly. The two sides have common or similar positions on such major issues as climate change, food and energy security and the Doha Round negotiations and maintained sound coordination and cooperation in the trilateral mechanism among China, Russia and India, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the East Asia Summit, G8+5 and other multilateral mechanisms.

Q3. What are the problem areas and how are things moving forward on those?

Ans: There are still some outstanding issues left by history between the two sides. China is of the view that these issues should be addressed in a spirit of peace, friendship, equality and consultation. It is necessary to proceed from the fundamental interests of the two countries and their peoples and find a fair and equitable solution acceptable to both. It is fair to say that positive progress has been made in negotiations on the related issues. The two sides need to continue to push for the growth of their bilateral relations, enhance political mutual trust and create a sound atmosphere and favorable conditions for the final settlement of those issues.

Q4. Trade collaboration through border posts like Nathu La has not progressed much. What are the problems?

Ans: China and India opened border trade through Nathu La in July 2006. The total trade volume at the Nathu La border trade market was only over RMB4 million in 2007. There is a huge untapped potential. China adopts a positive attitude toward the development of China-India border trade and hopes that India will further relax and eventually eliminate restrictions on commodities for border trade, which will help fully mobilize the enthusiasm of the businesses of the two sides, promote sound and smooth development of border trade and benefit the people of the two sides living in border areas.

Q5. What are China's views on India's continued support to the Dalai Lama? Do you notice any changes on this front in recent years?

Ans: The government of India recognizes the Tibet Autonomous Region is part of the territory of the People's Republic of China and promises not to allow anti-China political activities on the territory of India. This year, India adopted measures to ensure the safety of torch relay of Beijing Olympic Games in New Delhi, and check anti-China activities by activists for "Tibet independence" on more than one occasion. China appreciates this. We hope India will continue to abide by its commitments on Tibet-related issues.

Q6. Indian security officials often make allegations of Chinese incursions into Indian territory. What is the Chinese view?

Ans: China-India boundary has never been formally delimited. China holds that the two countries should follow the spirit of peace, friendship, consultation on an equal footing, mutual respect and mutual accommodation, and resolve the boundary question through negotiations. Pending an ultimate solution, China stands ready to work with India to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas. The two countries signed the Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility Along the Line of Actual Control in the China-India Border Areas in 1993 and the Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field Along the Line of Actual Control in the China-India Border Areas in 1996. China is serious about these two agreements.

Q7.Is this century indeed the India-China century? What do you foresee the relationship between the two giants going over the next few decades and how will it impact the world?

Ans: During his meeting with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Mr. Deng Xiaoping said only when both China and India become developed can there be a true Asia century. The rapid development of China and India has brought new opportunities for bilateral relations and significant changes in Asia and beyond. Good neighborliness, friendship and joint development between China and India have become an irreversible trend, bringing benefits to 2.4 billion people of the two countries and creating significant impact on peace and development in Asia and the whole world. China stands ready to work with India to continue to enrich China-India strategic partnership of cooperation and contribute our share to a harmonious Asia and a harmonious world with lasting peace and common prosperity.

Q8. What concerns, if any, does China have about the India-nuke deal?

Ans: Both China and India are major developing countries in rapid economic development. The two countries need secure, reliable and clean energy. Therefore, China understands India's needs for civil nuclear energy and related international cooperation.

China believes all countries have the rights to peaceful use of nuclear energy and conducting related international cooperation based on the precondition of honoring international nuclear non-proliferation obligations. At the same time, cooperation of this kind should help uphold the integrity and effectiveness of international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Q9. Does China support India's quest for a waiver at NSG?

Ans: Relevant issues are being addressed in the Nuclear Supplier's Group (NSG). China hopes that NSG will find an appropriate solution that strikes a balance between nuclear non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy.

(The interview was conducted online by Neelesh Misra.)