Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said India and China have “learnt from history” in dealing with their border dispute and asserted that bilateral ties have reached a stage where they can cooperate at a global stage while competing in commerce and trade.
Ahead of his visit to China next week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in an interview to TIME magazine, said, “There is by and large peace and tranquillity on the India-China border.”
“It is not a volatile border. Not a single bullet has been fired for over a quarter of a century now. This essentially goes to prove that both countries have learnt from history,” said Modi, who will embark on a three-day visit to China on May 14.
Modi will be hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the ancient Chinese city of Xian, the capital of the Chinese leader’s home province.
The two leaders will have an informal dialogue on a host of issues before settling for formal talks on May 15 in Beijing.
Besides Xi, Modi will hold talks with Premier Li Keqiang and Chairman of the China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC).
Talking about the vexed border dispute, Modi told the US-based magazine, “In so far as the India-China relationship is concerned specifically, it is true that there is a long border between India and China and a large part of it is disputed.”
“Still, I think both countries have shown great maturity in the last couple of decades to ensure and commit to economic cooperation which has continued to grow over the last 20 to 30 years to a stage where we currently have an extensive trade, investment and project related engagement between the two countries,” he said.
China says the border dispute is confined only to 2,000 km mostly in Arunachal Pradesh whereas India asserts that the dispute covers the western side of the border spanning to about 4,000 km, especially the Aksai Chin area annexed by China in the 1962 war.
Modi said given the current economic situation in the world, the two countries are at a stage where “we cooperate with China at the international stage but we also compete with China when it comes to commerce and trade.”
Asked about China increasing its assertiveness and influence on the world stage including in the South Asia, he said it was a “very natural” tendency for nations to increase their influence in the international space.
“I think it is a very natural tendency for the nations to increase their influence in the international space, as they pursue their international relations with different countries,” the Prime Minister said.
“I firmly believe that with due regard to international rules and regulations, and with full respect for human values, I think with these two perspectives in mind each country has the right to increase its presence, its impact and influence internationally for the benefit of the global community,” he said.
When asked to convey a special message to President Xi through the interview, Modi said, “I firmly believe that the relationship between two countries…should be such that to communicate with each other there should really not be a need for us to go through a third entity. That is the level of relationship that we currently have.”