India today said sanctioning of well-known terrorist leaders and organisations besides developmental issues like access to cooperation and investments in the field of civil nuclear energy should not emerge as points of difference with a “partner” like China.
Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said that China is expected to be appreciative of India’s interests, especially when they are not in conflict with those of Beijing, and noted that it is imperative for the future of Asia and the world, that the two nations approach each other with strategic maturity.
He admitted that bilateral ties with China were “complicated” but stressed that one should not approach the relationship as a zero sum game.
“There is an expectation in India that a partner like China would be appreciative of India’s interests, especially when they are not in conflict with those of China.
“Combating terrorism is one such area and sanctioning of well-known terrorist leaders and organisations should not emerge as an issue of difference. Nor should reservations on developmental issues, such as India’s predictable access to international cooperation and investments in the field of civil nuclear energy,” he said speaking at a conference here.
Jaishankar was referring to China blocking India’s bid to put Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar’s on UN Security Council blacklist of groups linked to al-Qaeda or Islamic State and India’s entry in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
Admitting that India and China have a “complicated relationship”, the Foreign Secretary said one should not ignore the collaborative and convergent side of the ties as well.
Sino-Indian ties are a subject of heightened attention. Part of the reason is the weight of history that this particular relationship carries on its shoulders, he said.
Some of it also arises from the great potential that it holds and the impact that its direction could have on regional and global politics.
“The report card of our ties for the last three decades is much stronger than many assume,” he said.
Noting that from a situation of limited contacts and content, India-China relations have today transitioned out of their state of abnormalcy, Jaishankar said one must give due credit to the efforts of successive governments on both sides who have ensured peace and tranquillity on the border, even as negotiations on its settlement continue.
“Difficult problems, some of them pertaining to sovereignty, have not been side-stepped,” he said.
The Foreign Secretary said no less significant is the ability of the two nations to work together at global forums on developmental issues.
“That we meet and cooperate in mechanisms ranging from EAS, G-20 and SCO to BRICS, RIC and BASIC is not a small achievement,” he said.
On the economic side, the rapid rise of trade with China has had a profound, if mixed, implication, Jaishankar added.
“While it has allowed some new capacities to be built in areas like telecom and power generation, it has also impacted negatively on others.
“Fair market access in China itself remains an issue for Indian companies, including in globally competitive areas like pharmaceuticals and information technology,” he said.
The top diplomat underlined that the current government has taken initiatives to address these challenges and strengthen the positive direction of ties.
“They include a more enthusiastic welcome of Chinese investments, establishment of industrial parks, collaboration in railways and a more liberal visa regime.
“A full realization of the vision agreed upon between the leaders of the two nations in 2014-15 requires relations to be continuously nurtured. Displaying mutual sensitivity to each other’s concerns is very necessary in that context,” he said.
Jaishankar said it is important to see why both countries differ on some issues and how we can bridge it.
“It would in a gross mistake to approach this relationship as a zero sum game,” he said replying to questions about how both countries can cooperate when they are rivals.