Proximity to Pakistan may affect goodwill, BJP team tells China

The 11-member high-level BJP delegation led by general secretary Arun Singh also urged China to take measures to increase imports from India so that the $57.86 billion trade deficit could be brought down.

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A BJP delegation has conveyed to the Communist Party of China (CPC) leadership that the goodwill China enjoys in India could get affected if Beijing is seen as supporting Pakistan, which the delegation said is fostering and promoting terrorist activities in India.

The 11-member high-level BJP delegation led by general secretary Arun Singh also urged China to take measures to increase imports from India so that the $57.86 billion trade deficit could be brought down.

In discussions between the BJP delegation and the CPC leadership during the seven-day visit that included party MPs, the key message was that “each one should respect the other’s concerns, sensitivities and aspirations,” Singh told The Indian Express.

Incidentally, the BJP delegation’s August 26-September 1 visit comes ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in October and also in the wake of the Centre’s move to scrap the special status to Jammu and Kashmir state and bifurcate it into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.

Beijing had reacted strongly to the move saying India should avoid “unilateral actions” in J&K that could trigger tensions in the region and maintained that the reorganisation of Ladakh as a UT was “unacceptable”.

On August 16, China had pushed the United Nations Security Council to meet for a closed-door, informal consultation on the situation in J&K. China’s envoy to the UN Zhang Jun said UNSC members were “concerned about the human rights situation there and also it’s the general view of members that parties concerned should refrain from taking any unilateral action that might further aggravate the tension”. India has rebutted the claim.

However, BJP leader Arun Singh said the issue was not raised in meetings with top CPC leaders, but the matter came up in “small meetings”. “We maintained that there is no change in the territory of any country. And the whole purpose of the move was the welfare of the people in the state,” said Singh.

Vijay Chauthaiwale, BJP’s foreign affairs department in charge, who was part of the delegation, said the BJP’s decision to go ahead with this visit despite the developments at the UNSC showed that the ruling party “was keen to have dialogues”.

He told The Indian Express: “There was a good attempt to understand each party’s functioning and structure. Whenever there was a reference to J&K, we put our position clear and they did theirs.” Another highlight of the visit, Chauthaiwale said, is that BJP’s president Amit Shah had written a letter meant for Chinese President Xi Jinping. The letter, which was handed over to the CPC leadership, apparently said that there should be more interactions between the two parties.

Singh, who described the visit at the invitation of CPC as “extremely successful”, said that ruling party leaders have suggested agriculture products, pharmaceutical and tourism sectors as the areas where Beijing can work to bring down the huge trade deficit between the two countries.

“We suggested that there should be import of sugar and pharmaceutical products and that Beijing should work to remove the hurdles in enhancing the imports from these sectors. We told them China should invest more and there should be technology transferring also,” he said.

According to Singh, the BJP delegation told every leader it met and held talks with that every household in India has Chinese products and there is goodwill for the country. “There is an emotional attachment to China. But when Beijing is seen as supporting our neighbouring country which fosters and promotes terrorist activities in our soil, their sentiments get hurt. The perception that China supports a country that wages a proxy war against India will damage that goodwill,” said Singh. “The message was that Beijing should be seen closer to New Delhi.”

According to sources who were part of the delegation, the highlight of the Chinese presentations as well as the talks was that since India and China account for one-third of the world’s population, both countries should come together.

Referring to the recent issues between China and the US, some leaders have emphasised that both Beijing and New Delhi should not allow Washington to impose unilateral decisions in the region.

Apart from Singh and Chauthaiwale, the delegation included Gopal Agarwal, national spokesperson on economic affairs, party MPs Shivkumar Udasi (Karnataka), Suresh Pujari (Odisha), Raksha Khadse (Maharashtra), Vivek Narayan Shejwalkar (Madhya Pradesh), Mahesh Poddar (Rajya Sabha), Chandigarh BJP president Sanjay Tandon, party spokesperson Ashok Goel and Neetu Dabas, secretary of the party’s youth wing BJYM in Delhi. They visited Beijing and Guangzhou.

The delegation met CPC leaders including Politburo member Huang Kunming, who is also the head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, Minister Song Tao and Vice Minister Guo Yezhou, among others.

Sources said the BJP delegation asked the Chinese political leadership and the administration to “verify” with the BJP leaders any reports linked to India-China relations that appeared in the media. “We told them media is free to write anything in India. But we requested them to approach us to verify them with us. We said we would be happy to give the true and clear picture,” a source said.

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