India's proximity to US worries Li

Last Updated 21 May 2013, 21:14 IST

Beijing on Tuesday offered to script a new chapter in bilateral ties with New Delhi, even as it subtly advised India to keep off the US-led bid to contain China’s flourish.

“China and India are no threat to each other. So we do not need to try to contain each other,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on the last day of his maiden state visit to New Delhi. “A close neighbour is much more useful than a distant relation,” he said in what appeared to be a message to New Delhi on its ties with China and the US.

The Chinese premier’s remarks came a day after he and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided that India and China would “take a positive view of and support each other’s friendship with other countries.” Li visited Mumbai on Tuesday. He will leave for a two-day visit to Pakistan on Wednesday.

Li’s remarks assume significance as Singh is scheduled visit to Japan, perceived to play a key role in the US’ rebalancing policy towards Asia, in an apparent response to China’s growing military might and rise as a global power.

Singh is set to visit Tokyo at a time when China’s territorial disputes with both Japan and India have come to the fore. India has for long expressed concern over the “String of Pearls” or the strategic assets China has been developing in the Indian Ocean region.

Singh will meet his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe, who, during his earlier term as the prime minister of Japan, called for an “arc of freedom and prosperity” in Asia. Abe retained his hardline stand on China even during his second term.

Singh may also visit the US later this year. John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, is set to visit India next month to co-chair the annual strategic dialogue with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

Li’s remarks on Tuesday reflected Beijing’s unease over New Delhi’s ties with Washington and Tokyo.

Singh and Li on Monday took note of the “increasingly important role of Asia-Pacific in global affairs.”

 “The two sides are of the view that the current priority of this region is to maintain peace and stability of the region, promote regional common development, as well as to establish an open, transparent, equal and inclusive framework of security and cooperation based on the observance of the basic principles of international law,” read a joint statement issued after their meeting.

Addressing an audience comprising academics, diplomats, business leaders and students, Li reiterated that China was committed to fostering friendly relations with India. He had “candid, frank and fruitful talks” with Singh in the past two days.

Li said his visit to New Delhi has provided a new starting point for growth in the Sino-indian ties.

 This was also endorsed by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, who said the Chinese premier’s visit was a “landmark” that would boost strategic and cooperative partnership between the two neighbours.

Though his maiden state visit to New Delhi and Mumbai was overshadowed by the recent border standoff at Depsang Bulge in Ladakh, Li said China and India have far more common interests than differences.

(Published 21 May 2013, 20:46 IST)

Follow us on