PM Modi calls for ‘great wall of trust’ with China
The youth dialogue was billed by the Chinese embassy as part of the build-up to the first meeting in December of the China-India high-level people-to-people and cultural exchange mechanism co-chaired by the foreign ministers. The mechanism was one of the outcomes of the informal summit between Modi and Xi in Wuhan in April.Updated: Nov 17, 2018 08:03 IST
Ahead of his meeting with President Xi Jinping on the margins of the G20 Summit in Argentina this month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday spoke of the need for contacts between India and China to build a “Great Wall of Trust and Cooperation”. Modi’s remarks came in the form of a message read out to participants of the China-India Youth Dialogue 2018 at the Chinese embassy. Chinese envoy Lou Zhaohui, in his speech at the event, spoke of the need to synergise India’s ‘Act East’ policy with China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) initiative, which New Delhi doesn’t endorse.
The youth dialogue was billed by the Chinese embassy as part of the build-up to the first meeting in December of the China-India high-level people-to-people and cultural exchange mechanism co-chaired by the foreign ministers. The mechanism was one of the outcomes of the informal summit between Modi and Xi in Wuhan in April.
In his message, Modi said the youth dialogue will “provide a great platform for the youth of both the nations to build a ‘Great Wall of Trust and Cooperation’ between the two countries”.
Such synergy between young people, he added, will “spur enhanced people-to-people contact and lead to increased cooperation”.
Modi and Xi are set to meet for the fourth time this year during the G20 Summit. They have met twice since Wuhan – on the margins of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Qingdao in June, and the sidelines of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, in July.
Noting that Modi had focused on investment, trade and connectivity during his engagements at the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Singapore this week, Luo spoke of the need to synergise India’s Act East Policy and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
“We focus more on the concrete cooperation, so that’s why I really think that Act East and One Belt, One Road is quite natural. How do you synergise these two strategies together between the two countries and between the two leaders and benefit from cooperation and development?” he said.
“That is the right direction...and I am quite optimistic,” he added.
OBOR, he said, is China’s national policy and accepted by almost 100 countries. Connectivity and free trade had become the “policy of every country”, and China and India too “share the same policy on connectivity, on free trade”, he added.
Luo described the Wuhan Summit as a historic milestone in bilateral relations and said: “China-India relations are at one of the best periods in history…Both sides are implementing the consensus reached by the leaders.”
The meeting in Wuhan helped the two sides reset their ties after they dipped to a low during the 73-day military stand-off in Doklam last year, with Modi and Xi agreeing on “prudent management of differences”. In recent months, China has also sought to work closely with India on trade issue in the wake of its trade war with the US.
The envoy also referred to connectivity projects that India and China were jointly working on, such as the BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) economic corridor. The two sides had reached consensus on BCIM in 2013, and the economic corridor “is going well, not quite well, but well”, he added.
Meanwhile, India’s outgoing envoy to China, Gautam Bambawale, has said New Delhi will have its own interests in mind while negotiating the tricky waters of geopolitical rivalry between China and the US in the Indo-Pacific.
As part of the “Quad” bloc with the US, Japan and Australia, India is often seen – especially by China – as a tool used by Washington to counter Beijing’s increasing influence in the region.
In an interview to state-run China Global Television Network, Bambawale countered that argument. “The only side India is on is India’s own side. In other words, our foreign policy and all our policies are geared towards meeting India’s interests and India’s national interests,” he said.
“So, we have managed to keep excellent relations not only with China and Russia and Japan but also completely changed our relationship with the US. We will do whatever is in India’s best interests.”
Bambawale, who will retire this month and be succeeded by India’s current ambassador to Myanmar, Vikram Misri, said the Wuhan Summit removed several “misconceptions” between the two sides. “Both leaders were very keen to have this kind of (informal) meeting. The reason why we did an informal summit was that we wanted the two leaders to talk to each other for the maximum amount of time,” he said.
He said both countries were beneficiaries of multilateralism and India is a votary of globalisation like China. He added the issue that divides the two countries is the unresolved boundary question.