China offers India fresh proposals to mend ties

China offers India fresh proposals to mend ties

India is likely to be cautious in its response to China’s latest proposal to start negotiations on a bilateral treaty of friendship and cooperation.

New Delhi was surprised by the latest set of proposals from Beijing, which included not only a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, but also a Free Trade Agreement and an “early harvest” deal to partially settle the long-pending boundary dispute.

Beijing also offered to discuss with New Delhi ways to find common ground between the Belt and Road initiative of China and India’s Act East policy. New Delhi has so far been opposed to the Belt and Road initiative.

China put forward the fresh set of proposals to mend its ties with India, even as the complex relations between the two neighbours came under stress over the past few months.

Beijing not only stonewalled New Delhi’s bid to enter the Nuclear Suppliers Group, but also blocked its move at the United Nations to impose international sanctions on terrorist Masood Azhar, who lives in Pakistan and masterminded several attacks in India, including one on the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot, Punjab, in January 2016.

Lao Zhouhui, Beijing’s envoy to New Delhi, publicly articulated China’s latest set of proposals to add new momentum to its ties with India.

“We should negotiate the bilateral Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, Free Trade Agreement, early harvest related to border issues and so on,” said Lou, delivering a speech at the University of Mumbai on Tuesday. “We should also discuss how to synergise China’s Belt and Road initiative with India’s Act East Policy,” he added.

Sources in New Delhi said that India will cautiously study the set of proposals put forward by China, particularly the one for starting negotiation on the proposed Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. While New Delhi remained committed to improving ties with Beijing, its engagements with the communist country in the coming days would be guided by the “national interests of India”, sources told DH.

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