`Li’s trip shows China keen to enhance ties with India’

Beijing, May 18 (IANS) The choice of India as the first leg of Li Keqiang’s maiden overseas trip as Chinese premier has sent out a clear signal that Beijing’s new leadership prioritizes enhancing ties with New Delhi but that “the two nations cannot fully restore mutual trust without resolving the border dispute”, Xinhua news agency said in a commentary on Saturday.

“The rationale is simple: With China and India being the world’s two largest developing countries and most populous nations – accounting for about 40 percent of the global population, a sour and bitter relationship would serve the interests of neither side,” Xinhua said.

It said that in recent talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li reaffirmed China’s commitment to fostering stronger bilateral ties while effectively managing border problems and other thorny issues.

“Over the years, bilateral relations have withstood a host of tests, including the latest border spat. But the swift cooling-down once again shows that both nations are looking at the big picture of their ties, instead of being carried away by incidental matters,” it said.

The commentary stated it is obvious that “both sides want fewer hostilities and confrontations in their neighborhood and, with their primary focus on national development, need to seize the strategic growth opportunities facing them”.

It added that since the 1950s, many have regarded China and India as the champions of their rights, and that shared responsibility has inspired the two nations to work more closely on issues like climate change, food and energy security, and global financial woes.

“Now, as both nations are key stakeholders with increasing importance in regional and global affairs, it is a better moment than ever for them to join hands to tackle financial turmoils, terrorism and other challenges of the day.

“Those in the West who tend to see China-India ties through a prism of territorial disputes and inter-power rivalry must have forgotten the fact that their border problem is largely a legacy of Western colonialism. In the thousands of years before that, the two old civilizations rarely quarrelled for territorial issues,” it said.

The commentary went on to say that it is thanks to the same spirit of hard-work and self-reliance that both countries have achieved economic booms over the past decades, “with China becoming the `world’s factory’ and India growing into a top IT and outsourcing hub”.

Xinhua noted the two countries increasingly robust links in trade, investment and people-to-people exchanges have demonstrated that strengthening bilateral cooperation is not “just empty talk”.

“To be honest, the two nations cannot fully restore mutual trust without resolving the border dispute, a complex issue that might linger for a while,” it said.

“However, the level of mistrust could be gradually reduced with good faith in each other’s strategic intentions… and (China) has never sought to enhance ties with any other country at the expense of its relationship with India.”

Xinhua also said it is Beijing’s belief that India, an early advocate of the non-aligned movement, will “pursue its China policy at its own will without being part of the schemes of other powers”.

It called upon the “two giant neighbours to lay aside their differences and expand collaboration toward building a new type of inter-power relations that benefit the two nations, the region and the world at large”.

“The China-India relationship is more about the future than about the past. It is with such a forward-looking mind that China’s new leadership has decided to take new initiatives to further deepen bilateral ties and mutual trust. Li’s upcoming trip will be a crucial step in that direction,” it added/

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