By Nigam Prusty | Reuters
NEW DELHI, India, 9 September 2008
China said on Tuesday negotiating a settlement of its border disputes with India was an “arduous and complex” task, but added it was willing to work for a wider regional cooperation to achieve peace in South Asia.
The world’s two most populous nations are forging new ties amid soaring trade and business links, although serious differences remain over their Himalayan border, the cause of a 1962 war.
India has also been pursuing closer relations with the United States, identifying a civilian nuclear deal as the cornerstone of that friendship, a worrying development for China.
Although India and China have signed a treaty to maintain “peace and tranquility” along the disputed frontier and agreed to find a political solution to the row, talks over a 3,500 km (2,200 mile) disputed frontier have made little progress.
“We have our respective concerns, we should adopt a strategic approach,” China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said in New Delhi.
“We should properly manage the outstanding issues through consultations in the spirit of mutual understanding and accommodation. This is an arduous and complex task,” he said.
China has hardened its position on the border dispute by restating its claim to a Buddhist monastery in Tawang, and Indian security forces have complained of frequent border incursions by Chinese forces last year.
Yang called on India to work for a wider regional cooperation while the two countries settled their bilateral disputes.
“China and India should be committed to regional cooperation to achieve common development,” Yang said. “We are prepared to play a constructive role in the region.”
In addition to solving the border dispute, the Asian giants are seeking to push bilateral trade beyond its present $30 billion.
Their relations have seen more downs than ups, and analysts say Yang’s visit could help clear the air.
The visit comes at a time when Indian diplomats have expressed disappointment with what they say was China’s reluctance to support a U.S. proposal to lift a global ban on nuclear trade with India.
But Yang said China had no problems with the ban waiver.
“There is a need for a nation like India because you are such a big country,” he said. “You import oil … so there is all the more urgency to make peaceful use of nuclear energy.”
He said China saw India as an important partner, not a rival.