India is committed to finding an “early settlement” to the vexed boundary issue, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said on her maiden visit to China as she proposed a six-point template to build Sino- India ties to realise the common dream of ‘Asian Century’.
Addressing an India-China Media forum at the start of her four-day visit here, she said the two countries should follow action oriented approach, broad base bilateral engagement, convergence of common, regional and global interests, develop new areas of cooperation, expand strategic communication, fulfil common aspirations to usher in an “Asian Century”.
Highlighting that her visit is taking place against the backdrop of new government taking over office in India with a decisive mandate, Swaraj said Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government propelled the aspiration of young, vibrant and enterprising generation.
“Even in the last eight months it is already evident that dramatic transformations are underway in my country that will accelerate our journey to modernity,” Swaraj said.
She said Prime Minister Modi already met Chinese President Xi Jinping thrice and once Premier Li Keqiang.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi was the first foreign dignitary to have been invited by India after Modi government took over, Swaraj said pointing to the importance India attaches to its relations with China.
“Our relationship today has reached a level where we have interactions in fields that could not have been imagined some years ago. We have made considerable progress in establishing and expanding defence contacts and exchanges, including across our border,” Swaraj said.
“They contribute to the maintenance of peace and tranquillity there, a perquisite to, for the further development of our relationship. On the boundary question my government is committed to exploring early settlement,” she said, referring to the long pending boundary issue.
Chinese position is that the border dispute is confined to 2,000 kms mostly on Arunachal Pradesh whereas India asserts that the dispute covered the western side of the border spanning to about 4,000 km.
The two countries have held 17 rounds of Special Representative talks so far to resolve the boundary dispute.
The issue also figured during talks between Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi during his historic visit to India in September last year.
The two leaders had agreed to make efforts to resolve the border dispute at the earliest.
Swaraj said that “a critical nature” of the bilateral ties are the growing economic ties.
“China today is our largest partner in trade and goods. The two countries are moving to invest in each other. Serious discussions enhancing connectivity has been initiated. On that foundation we are now seeking to take our economic cooperation to a qualitatively new level,” she added.
“We will make it easier for Chinese companies to do business in India and expect that similar encouragement would be given to our companies to expand their business in China,” Swaraj said.
She also pointed out that another major thrust is in establishing industrial parks in two Indian states that would contribute to the ‘Make in India’ initiative. She said China has agreed to invest USD 20 billion in the parks.
Stating that the relations have grown beyond bilateral ties, Swaraj said the two countries now are parts of multilateral bodies like BRICS and BASIC.
She said she will be attending the Russia, India, China Foreign Ministers meet tomorrow.
Swaraj said more importantly the relationship with key neighbours requires strong and broad based support from people of both the countries.
“It is only logical that therefore we have invested our energies in strengthening people to people contacts. During this visit I expect to that area to be forward in many ways”, she said.
Stating that she will be launching ‘2015: Visit India Year in China, Swaraj said, “Tourism is an effective vehicle to promote people-to-people understanding and the two countries agreed that we need to make stronger efforts in that regard”.
She said the cultural exchange initiative agreed during President Xi’s visit is currently under way.
The 2nd India-China Media Forum is being attended by a number of journalists from the two countries.
Swaraj said the “close developmental partnership” agreed during last September visit of President Xi to India “symbolises that determination”.
Eluding to civilisational links between the two countries and the far reaching influence of Buddhism, Swaraj said, “Our ancient scholars of two civilisations have played their critical role in building of these ties”.