World / Asia-Pacific

Senior officials reaffirm peaceful development of Sino-Indian ties

By Zhao Shengnan (China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-05 02:48

Senior officials from China and India met for the first time after Beijing's once in a decade leadership transition in November, as both sides assured each other that the countries will maintain peaceful and stable relations.

Experts said the Asian powers have narrowed their differences over boundary issues and become each other's diplomatic priority after decades of negotiations prevented disputes from escalating.

China's top legislator said Beijing would maintain its strategies to consolidate ties with India, and welcome the South Asian country's stability and prosperity amid the lingering territorial disputes.

Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, made the remarks during a meeting with Indian National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, who was in Beijing to co-chair dialogues on special border issues with State Councilor Dai Bingguo.

Wu said the two countries should use the dialogue to settle border issues, adding that the two countries share many common interests and there is potential for cooperation despite profound changes in the international situation.

India will not let boundary issues negatively affect relations with China, as both countries need a peaceful and stable environment to reach development goals, Menon said.

India is confident about the future of bilateral relations with China, said Menon, adding that it is significant for the two countries and the world to deepen ties.

Ma Jun, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science of the People's Liberation Army, said the two biggest developing countries cannot afford more conflicts as both are focused on a similar historic task of building their domestic economies and improving people's livelihoods.

China and India, which share a 2,000-km border, experienced a brief conflict in 1962, but the countries have had 15 rounds of talks at the special representative level and signed a political guideline on border demarcation in 2005.

The countries may become more closely linked in the future, as China's young professionals and technology can meet New Delhi's plan for mass infrastructure construction over the next five years, said Lou Chunhao, a professor of South Asian studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

China has emerged as India's largest trade partner, with bilateral trade soaring to $73.9 billion in 2011 from $4.9 billion in 2002.

New Delhi is cautious about China's rise, but is also making efforts to strengthen cooperation with Beijing, experts said.

India's navy on Monday declared that it's ready to deploy naval vessels to the South China Sea to protect its oil-exploration interests in the area.

In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Tuesday said China had "indisputable sovereignty" over the Nansha Islands and surrounding waters.

Hong opposed unilateral oil and gas exploitation in disputed waters.

"We hope that concerned countries respect China's position and rights, and respect efforts made through bilateral talks to resolve disputes," Hong said.

An Indian government spokesman played down the comments on Tuesday, saying "this is an issue for the parties concerned to resolve", Reuters reported.

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