India, China discuss boundary row, focus on economic ties


Beijing : India and China Thursday discussed their long-standing border row and the need for maintaining peace along the boundary and also expressed confidence about surpassing the trade target of $60 billion by 2010.

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Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who is on a four-day official visit to China, met his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and discussed an entire spectrum of issues, including the festering border row and intensification of economic ties.

The two sides agreed not to disturb “the status quo or change the situation and to use existing mechanisms whenever necessary to maintain peace and tranquility along the border”, Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon said after the talks.

“Both sides covered all major issues in bilateral relations in a constructive, positive and forward-looking manner. The minister was very satisfied with both the content and the nature of the talks and the outcome on all these issues,” Menon said.

The two countries also signed an MoU under which China will share flood season hydrological data of the Bhramaputra with India, which will ensure the safety and security of the people living along the river.

Earlier in the day, Mukherjee opened India’s consulate in Guangzhou, capital of China’s Guangdong province, and set an upbeat tone for expanding economic ties, saying the two countries are likely to surpass their $60 billion trade target before the 2010 deadline.

Recalling that Guangdong had always been at the forefront of China’s ambitious economic reforms programme, Mukherjee, who is on his first official visit to China as external affairs minister, said India is keen to learn from the province’s experience, including its remarkable success in developing special economic zones.

“If India and China are to grow together, as your President Hu Jintao said during his visit to India, our economic and commercial relationship must become the firm foundation for such growth,” Mukherjee said while formally inaugurating the Guangzhou consulate.

The inauguration function was attended, among others, by Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua, India’s Ambassador to China Nirupama Rao and Guangzhou Vice Mayor Chen Mingde.

China is now India’s largest trading partner.

According to Xinhua news agency, Yang said the China-India relationship was “at the best period of development in history”, and faced “important strategic opportunities”.

Yang also vowed to closely cooperate with the Indian side to strengthen exchanges and dialogue, expand economic and trade cooperation and consider the concerns of each other to promote the China-India strategic partnership.

The Chinese foreign minister also expressed his appreciation of the Indian government’s aid to China’s quake-hit areas. India has pledged $5 million for the earthquake victims and has sent planeloads of relief material, with more on the way.

Xinhua also quoted Mukherjee saying that India would never tolerate any political anti-China activities by anyone on Indian territory.

During his talks with Yang, Mukherjee reiterated the Indian government’s persistent stance that the Tibetan Autonomous Region is a part of China’s territory, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

In a special message sent to Mukherjee, Premier Wen Jiabao said he would not be able to meet him Friday as scheduled because he had to rush to the areas hit by a massive earthquake last month.