New Delhi : The government Friday sought to downplay remarks by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee describing China as “a strategic challenge” and underlined that there was “sufficient space” for both countries to grow together in an emerging world order.
”It is clear that in his speech he recognized that there is enhanced engagement with China and as a result of our engagement we have today a completely different situation,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement here Friday.
“Economic development has given both our countries new capabilities and that it is our belief that there is sufficient space for both India and China to grow together and build a cooperative relationship in the new architecture,” the ministry said.
With Beijing reacting sharply to remarks attributed to Mukherjee in media reports conjuring up the China threat, the ministry clarified that Mukherjee never used the word “threat” in describing China in a speech he delivered at the National Defence College in New Delhi Monday.
“There is thus no cause for misinterpretation and the kind of negative gloss that has been put on the speech by certain elements in the media,” the ministry said.
In his address, Mukherjee described Beijing as a security “challenge and a priority”, and underlined that India would have to develop “more sophisticated ways of dealing with these new challenges posed by China”.
“We are today faced with a new China. Today’s China seeks to further her interests more aggressively than in the past, thanks to the phenomenal increase of her capacities after 30 years of reforms,” Mukherjee had said.
“There are also new set of challenges which China poses such as the strategic challenge as China develops its capabilities in outer space; the geopolitical challenge as it reaches out to various parts of the globe in search of raw materials and resources,” he said.
The remarks elicited a sharp reaction from Beijing. Leaders of both India and China have agreed to take forward their bilateral relationship in a spirit of friendship in a spirit of friendship and not consider each other as rivals, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said in Beijing.
“There is no question of China and India regarding each other as security risk,” said Ma Jaili, an influential Chinese strategic expert.