Thursday, October 24, 2013

We should move quickly to resolve our boundary issue: PM tells China

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday outlined a new vision for the future of ties with China, detailing \"seven practical principles of engagement\" that called for greater sensitivity to core issues such as the boundary question and trans-border rivers.

\"We were not destined to be rivals, and we should show determination to become partners,\" Dr. Singh said in a speech at the Communist Party Central Committee\'s Party School.

Dr. Singh in his speech highlighted India\'s specific concerns over the boundary issue - particularly in the wake of April\'s three-week face-off following a Chinese incursion in Depsang, Ladakh - and on the management of trans-boundary rivers, such as the Brahmaputra, as two key areas that would determine the future course of relations.

Peace and tranquility in border areas was \"a cornerstone\" of the relationship, Dr. Singh said, adding that \"We should do nothing to disturb that\" and \"at the same time should move quickly to resolve our boundary issue\".

Dr. Singh also called for increased consultation \"on complex issues such as trans-border rivers and trade imbalance\".

The five other \"principles of engagement\" outlined by the Prime Minister were: greater sensitivity to each other\'s core concerns; \"a spirit of transparency\" to eliminate misunderstandings on issues concerning the region and periphery; greater policy coordination on global matters to increase strategic trust; taking forward economic ties; and widening people-to-people contact.

At the same time, Dr. Singh made clear that unresolved \"concerns on both sides - whether it is incidents in the border region, trans-border rivers or trade imbalances\" could become \"impediments to the full exploitation of the opportunities for bilateral and multilateral cooperation between India and China\".

In an apparent reference to Chinese anxieties about India\'s relations with the United States, Dr. Singh said, \"Our strategic partnerships with other countries are defined by our own economic interests, needs and aspirations. They are not directed against China or anyone else.\"

India, he said, \"expect[ed] a similar approach from China\", obliquely referring to New Delhi\'s concerns over Beijing\'s ties with Pakistan. During Wednesday\'s talks with the Chinese leadership, Dr. Singh reiterated India\'s concerns over Chinese investments in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

In his speech, Dr. Singh highlighted \"terrorism, extremism and radicalism emanating from our neighbourhood\" as affecting \"both of us directly and can create instability across Asia.\"

The Prime Minister also described maritime security in the Pacific and Indian Oceans as essential to India\'s energy security, and said it was in India\'s interest to see an \"inclusive and rule-based security architecture\" in Asia.

\"India welcomes China\'s emergence,\" Dr. Singh said. \"Frankly, old theories of alliances and containment are no longer relevant.\"

\"India and China cannot be contained and our recent history is testimony to this,\" he added. \"Nor should we seek to contain others.\"
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