‘China, India should work together, not wear each other down’

Updated on Aug 19, 2022 07:32 PM IST

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China and India have far more common interests than differences and the two neighbours should reinforce each other better, rather than pose a threat to each other

Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande during his visit to the forward areas along Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Central Sector on June 11. (PTI/ FILE)
Chief of the Army Staff General Manoj Pande during his visit to the forward areas along Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Central Sector on June 11. (PTI/ FILE)

China on Friday offered a muted reaction to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s comments that Sino-Indian relations are in an “extremely difficult phase” because of Beijing’s actions on the border with India, saying the two countries should provide each other “development opportunities”, instead of posing a threat to each other.

EAM Jaishankar on Thursday blamed China for the ongoing Sino-India border tension along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), in eastern Ladakh, and, recalling Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s remarks, said that an Asian century can only happen when India and China come together. He was addressing a gathering of diplomats, academics and students at the prestigious Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

“The Asian century will be difficult to happen if India and China don’t come together, and one of the big questions today is where India-China relations are going,” the Indian minister said in his speech titled ‘India’s Vision of the Indo-Pacific’.

“Because at the moment, the relationship is going through an extremely difficult phase because of what the Chinese have done in the last two years in our border areas.”

New Delhi has consistently dismissed Beijing’s allegations that it acted provocatively since the standoff began in May 2020, and said that it was China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which trespassed the LAC in eastern Ladakh, triggering the current tensions.

Reacting to Jaishankar’s speech, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, at the regular ministry briefing on Friday, said, “A true Asia-Pacific century or Asian century can come only when China, India can and other countries can achieve sound development. China and India or two ancient civilisations, two emerging economies and two big neighbours.”

He said that the two countries have the “wisdom and capability to reinforce each” rather than wear each other down, adding that “we have far more common interests than differences”.

“It is hoped that the Indian side can work with China in the same direction to follow through on the common understanding between our two leaders on being each other’s cooperative partners, not causing threats to each other and presenting each other with development opportunities,” Wang said. That would help Sino-India ties to “come back to the right track of sound and steady development at an early date and uphold common interests of China, India and the developing world.”

Wang said the two sides have an “effective” dialogue mechanism to resolve the dragging border conflict that has plunged bilateral ties to their worst in decades.

“I would like to stress that China-India maintain smooth communication over the border issues. The dialogue is effective.” he said, while answering a question on disengagement of troops.

Wang was also asked to respond to Jaishankar’s suggestion that the Indo-Pacific region will benefit from the Quad (India, US, Australia and Japan) grouping and opposition to the four-nation bloc is possibly a “unilateralist opposition to collective and cooperative endeavours”.

“China’s position on Quad is consistent and clear. I would like to stress that in a world of peace, cooperation and openness it will get no support if one seeks to create small cliques because it is against the trend of the times,” Wang said.

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    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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