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India, China friends, not rivals, says China Premier
Anil K Joseph in Beijing | March 14, 2005 13:23 IST
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday announced that he will visit India soon with a three-point agenda, including enhancing bilateral ties to strategic levels and to seek a "fair" resolution to the vexed boundary issue on the basis of "mutual accommodation and accommodation of reality".
Wen is expected to be in India in early April at the invitation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Speaking at his annual customary press conference at the end of the 10-day session of the Chinese parliament, the National People's Congress (NPC), Wen stressed that China and India were not rivals but friends.
As the two most populous nations in the world, China and India are not rivals but friends, and both countries shall work together to tap the potential of bilateral cooperation and find a "fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable plan" to solve their border disputes, Wen said amid rare applause from the over 700 reporters at the cavernous Great Hall of the People.
"I hope you can send my message back to the great Indian people, that we're not competitors, we are friends," said Wen while asked by PTI to comment on bilateral relations, ahead of the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China on April 1.
"The importance of friendship between China and India is from a strategic and comprehensive perspective because our combined population is 2.5 billion, more than 40 per cent of the world's total," Wen noted.
Stating that China and India will celebrate next month the 55th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties, Wen expressed the hope that the anniversary would "become a new starting point for Sino-Indian friendly cooperation".
Stressing that the development of Sino-Indian relations has "entered a new stage" in recent years, Wen said that during his planned visit, he would seek consensus mainly on three issues with his Indian hosts.
"Both China and India should fully recognise the great significance of Sino-Indian friendship, not only to Asia, but also to the entire world," said Wen, adding that the importance of friendly ties was "immeasurable."
Though the annual trade volume between the two countries has now reached 13.6 billion US dollars, there remains great potentials for the two sides to expand cooperation and seek common development, said.
On the sensitive boundary issue, the Premier suggested that the two countries first establish the principle for the resolution of the issue, which was left over by history, on the basis of equal consultation and mutual understanding and accommodation with both respect for history and accommodation for reality.
The boundary issue, he said should be solved by "a fair reasonable solution that is acceptable to both sides. It should also be found on the basis of equal-consultations, mutual understanding and mutual accommodation, respect for history and accommodation of reality."
The India-China boundary issue has been lingering for many decades. India says China is illegally occupying 43,180 sq kms of Jammu and Kashmir including 5,180 sq km illegally ceded to Beijing by Islamabad under the Sino-Pakistan boundary agreement in 1963.
On the other hand, China accuses India of possessing some 90,000 sq km of Chinese territory, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh. With the boundary negotiations reaching an impasse, India and China decided in June, 2003 during the visit of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to appoint Special Representatives to speed up the talks and find a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through consultations on an equal footing.
The two sides also agreed that pending an ultimate solution, they should work together to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas, and reiterated their commitment to continue implementation of the agreements signed for this purpose, including the clarification of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The two Special Representatives of the two countries have met four times since 2003 and appears to be inching towards a boundary settlement at an early date.
The Chinese Premier gave an emotional ending to his comments by quoting from an Sanskrit poem: "May we not hate anyone. Let there be peace, let there be peace, let there be peace!"
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