China, India must be sensitive to each other's interests

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they take a boat ride on the East Lake in Wuhan, China. Reuters Photo

India and China cannot make much progress in the bilateral dialogue if they do not "empathise" with other's point of view and be sensitive to each other's aspirations and interests, India's envoy here said today.

Indian Ambassador to China Gautam Bambawale's remarks came during his address at the 8th India-China dialogue between Ananta Aspen Centre and China Reform Forum.

"An important principle in India-China relations is the necessity of being sensitive to the other country’s aspirations and interests," Bambawale said.

"In the absence such sensitivity, we may talk to each other but little progress will be made if we do not empathise with the other side's point of view," he said.

Referring to the recent informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan, the envoy said "both leaders spoke freely and frankly to each other on strategic and over-arching issues pertaining to the international and regional situations as well as on India-China relations".

The summit on April 27-28 was seen as an effort by India and China to rebuild trust and improve ties that were hit by the 73-day-long Dokalam standoff last year.

The summit was one such example of engagement at the apex level, Bambawale said.

"I have always maintained that if India and China have to live and progress together, especially in the 21st Century, it is essential that we engage with each other seriously and talk to each other extremely frankly and candidly," he said.

He said at the Wuhan summit both Modi and Xi concluded that there are many factors of commonality between India and China and that we need to expand on such convergences.

"Naturally, like any two countries, there are also differences between us. We can only resolve these differences, over time, if we speak to each other about them in an open manner," he said.

Bambawale called for a similar dialogue between the Indian and Chinese delegates attending the event to increase trust and understanding.

He said only through a frank, free and open dialogue, the two sides would be able to enhance understanding and increase trust.

"I would like to see a resumption of military exchanges between India and China as well as strategic communication between our top military commanders. This will be good for maintaining peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas," he said.

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