Congress President Sonia Gandhi says India-China relationship has the potential to become the "one of the foremost and most substantive" relationships of the 21st century, observing that it must be a key instrument in shaping the changing world order.
There may be some issues on which both sides have differences of approach and that's natural given the size and complexity of the two countries, Gandhi said.
"The leaderships of both India and China are engaged in deepening political understanding which fosters respect for each others' sensitivities," she said in a written interview to China's official Xinhua news agency, coinciding with the 90th anniversary celebrations of the ruling communist party.
"Such a dialogue should address all vital issues of mutual concern through visits, seminars and a productive exchange of ideas, skills and experiences," Gandhi said.
Currently, India and China are engaged in building a strategic and cooperative partnership and it is significant that China has already emerged as India's largest trading partner, she said. "The future beckons us to build what has the potential to become one of the foremost and most substantive relationships of the 21st century and one that is of lasting benefit for the people of both our countries," Gandhi said. Asia, which embraces India and China, is set to play an increasingly important role in world affairs and the India-China relationship must be a key instrument in shaping the changing world order, she said.
Gandhi also called for stepping up exchanges among younger leadership of Congress and Communist Party of China to enhance mutual understanding.
Those areas could include infrastructure building, inclusive growth, employment generation and environment protection, among other things, Gandhi said. Recalling her visits to China in 2007 and 2008 as Congress President, she said the Indian National Congress, and CPC signed a MoU in 2008. One of the key components of MoU was a shared commitment to strengthen exchanges amongst the younger leadership in the two parties.
More visits and exchanges, particularly among the youth wings of the two parties and between students of the two countries, are extremely important, she said. "That's to ensure that the generation of young leaders in China and India know and understand each other well, she said, thus deepening the relationship between the two parties, the two peoples and the two countries," she said.
The INC and CPC have engaged in useful dialogue and exchanges over the years, she said. India and China have pursued different paradigms of development as they have different political systems, natural resources and endowments, Gandhi said. Both countries have scored many achievements since independence and liberation respectively, but they also face challenges to greater development and prosperity, she said. Both countries have the potential to learn from each other, she said. She also recalled her 1988 visit to China with her late husband, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. She described the visit as a "historic one" that initiated a new chapter in the relations between India and China and had a far-reaching positive impact on bilateral interactions between the two sides.