CHINA / National
Updated: 2006-05-29 09:33
Expressing its commitment to a multi-polar world, India has assured China that it is not pursuing a "balance of power" policy and is not being used to "contain" China.
Ahead of Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee's visit to China starting Sunday, Indian Ambassador to Beijing Nalin Surie said: "On our part let me say that India does not pursue a balance of power policy, nor has it done so in the past. Our commitment to a multi-polar world is of long standing and a basic principle of independent India's foreign policy."
"If there are more centres of economic activity, if there are more centres of political influence, if there are varied founts of culture, the more diversified the world order and regional order become, the greater the interaction among peoples and countries and the greater will be the chance of maintaining peace and security," he said.
"India seeks an international environment which is supportive of and contributes to her developmental goals," he said in a major foreign policy speech here at the prestigious Peking University on the occasion of the ongoing 10-day "India Festival". "Let me underline that diversity and tolerance are the hallmark and enduring strength of India and Indian civilization."
At the same time, the world has recognized India's emergence as a responsible nuclear weapon state and this has required India to shoulder additional regional and global responsibility, Surie said, while assuring Beijing that New Delhi is not being used to "contain" China.
His remarks came amid fears expressed by the opponents of the Indo-US nuclear deal which, they claim, is aimed at containing China.
However, Surie acknowledged that the rapid development of India-China bilateral relations in recent years and "our rapid economic development has understandably begun to elicit worldwide interest, comparison and comment".
"Analysts, writers and commentators in the international media and even some academics have now begun essaying us as rivals and competitors and picking favourites from the two," he noted.
"There is no doubt a self serving element in this effort... It will benefit neither of our peoples to see our relations as a zero-sum game. Our developing bilateral relations are not a zero sum game. They are a positive sum game not only for both our countries but for Asia and I believe for the whole world," he said.
India and China together can be a great force for good, for development, for peace and common prosperity," Surie said.
"Cooperation between the two most populous and among the fastest growing economies in the world is also important for peace in the region, in Asia and the world," he said. "We have undoubtedly had a difficult phase in our relationship in the past. But that is behind us," Surie said, referring to the 1962 conflict as well as other differences between New Delhi and Beijing.
"This is clearly reflected in the June 2003 Declaration and April 2005 Joint Statement signed by our prime ministers. There is growing space for both our countries as they develop and integrate further into the global economy," he said as both Indian and Chinese governments are jointly celebrating 2006 as the "India-China Friendship Year".
Commenting on the current trends in India-China ties, Surie said they were developing and moving in the right direction. "We are engaged in the process of improving them further. While we are on this path it will be important not to be thrown off-track by rhetorical or motivated questions and scenarios of who will win - the dragon or the elephant." He acknowledged a series of high-level visits has helped ratchet the quality of the relationship to a higher plane.
On the vexed border issue, Surie noted that the two special representatives, appointed in 2003 to explore from the political perspective of the overall bilateral relationship the framework of a boundary settlement, have started work on the second phase of their work in right earnest.
"The second phase has now begun in right earnest. In this phase it is the expectation that the Special Representatives will draw up an agreed framework for the resolution of the boundary based on the agreed political parameters and guiding principles," he said.
Both sides have agreed at the highest level that they are not a threat to each other and both sides will qualitatively enhance the bilateral relationship at all levels and in all areas while addressing differences through peaceful means in a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable manner, he said.
"It is also our intention not to let our differences affect the overall development of bilateral relations."
Surie pointed out that if one reviews the progress in bilateral ties over the last six years it is clear that our relations have entered a dynamic phase. "The task ahead is to make this process self generating, self sustaining and to mutual benefit."