China on Friday told India candidly that “some artificial obstacles” were being raised by some of its “senior officials or the press” in a manner that “impeded” the “good momentum” in defence cooperation between the two countries.
India responded by reaffirming its call for “strengthening defence cooperation” on the basis of “mutual respect for each other’s concerns.”
The issue was first raised by China’s National Defence Minister Liang Guanglie during his meeting with Minster of State for Defence M. M. Pallam Raju on the eve of the 10th Asia Security Summit being organised here by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Mr. Raju later summed up his response as follows: “I said, ‘We believe in strengthening our relationship with China. Our Prime Minister has, in many meetings with China’s Head of State, reiterated: Let us focus on the positives of the relationship and grow from strength to strength. And, similarly, there is a need, against the background of the overall relationship, for strengthening defence cooperation also [on the basis of] mutual respect for each other’s concerns.”
Gen. Liang outlined China’s perception that obstacles were being placed by “some Indian people, including some senior officials or the Indian press, from time to time, [in the form of] some irresponsible, unfounded remarks.”
Mr. Raju’s response was that “India being a democracy, our media is very active and sometimes they are more critical about the functioning of our own government.”
Gen. Liang posed the issue while tracing the big picture of China-India relationship. He said: “Both China and India are the world’s [two] ancient civilisations. We are two largest-developing countries and also two most populous countries in the world.”
Having struck common ground and shared similar interests on quite a number of major international issues, China and India in recent years, achieved “tangible” progress in their bilateral engagement on issues concerning economy, culture, science, and technology.
Space for improvement
Gen. Liang noted that “both sides have done a great deal of work in promoting friendly and cooperative relations” in a positive spirit. At the same time, “we also see a huge space for us to improve.”
While the two countries would “need to cherish what we have achieved, expand our common ground and explore new areas for cooperation … it is imperative for us to properly handle our disputes or sensitive issues.”
“Within this broad spectrum of bilateral engagement, China places great value on the military-to-military relations with India,” said Gen. Liang. Hindu