Beijing: Describing China as a “priority” in India’s foreign policy, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday told Premier Li Keqiang that he was keen on working closely with the Chinese leadership to deal with any outstanding issues in bilateral ties.
Premier Li on Thursday telephoned Prime Minister Modi and conveyed his government’s desire to establish robust partnership with the new government of India for the further development of ties.
Thanking Li for his earlier message of felicitations, Modi underlined his government’s resolve to utilise the full potential of “our strategic and cooperative partnership with China and his keenness to work closely with the Chinese leadership to deal with any outstanding issues in bilateral relations by proceeding from the strategic perspective of our developmental goals and long-term benefits to our peoples”.
Modi also welcomed greater economic engagement between the two countries. The two leaders agreed to maintain frequent high-level exchanges and communication. Modi extended through Premier Li an invitation to President Xi Jinping to pay a visit to India later this year.
Modi, on his part, noted that China was always a “priority” in India’s foreign policy. Li’s phone call to Modi came after Chinese government’s decision to send its Foreign Minister Wang Yi on June 8 as special envoy to meet the new Indian Prime Minister and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
Earlier, China had congratulated Modi soon after the poll results were announced. China had formally greeted Modi and sent a special message through Indian Ambassador to Beijing Ashok K Kantha during his meetings with Wang and State Councillor and Special Representative for the border dispute Yang Jiechi.
Li had also formally greeted Modi immediately after he was sworn-in as Prime Minister, saying China viewed India as a “natural cooperative partner” and was ready to work with the new Indian government to take their strategic cooperative partnership to a “new level”.
“China and India are important neighbours to each other and the top two emerging markets in the world. China-India relations have moved beyond the bilateral scope and taken on global and strategic significance,” he said.
“China stands ready to work with India to bring China-India strategic cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity to a new level,” Li had said. Modi’s victory was received well here as Chinese leadership shares a good rapport with him.
Modi visited China four times as the Chief Minister of Gujarat scouting for investments. Much of China’s USD 900 million investment in India is made in Gujarat. The new Indian government is taking charge in the backdrop of sound momentum of bilateral ties.
The two countries signed the Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) last year during the visit of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ensure peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) until a final agreement is reached between the two countries to resolve the issue.
The two countries are observing this year as the Year of Friendly Exchanges to step up engagement on various fronts. India has launched its biggest year-long cultural festival in China called the ‘Glimpses of India’ this year.
While the bilateral trade last year touched over USD 66 billion, the two countries are engaged in efforts to address India’s concerns over the USD 35 billion trade deficit with China.
Xi, stated to be the most powerful leader after late Deng Xiaoping, had expressed his desire to visit New Delhi soon after the new government was formed to strike rapport with new Indian leaders.
Li’s call to Modi came in the backdrop of China’s request for the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee at the 60th anniversary of the Panchasheel, the five principles jointly proposed by former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru with his then Chinese counterpart Zhou Enlai in 1954.
China plans to hold the celebrations of Panchasheel here on June 28 in which Presidents of China and Myanmar are expected to take part.
In his telephone talk with Modi, Li broached the topic of five principles which stands for peaceful co-existence with mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful co-existence.
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of Panchasheel, China is willing to further strengthen cooperation with India and jointly push ahead the construction of the Bangladesh- China-India-Myanmar economic corridor (BCIM), Li told Modi.
China mooted BCIM to connect old route between the two countries linking the Chinese city of Kunming with India’s North East. China was also willing to enhance exchanges in the humanistic field and other areas and look for more converging points of interest to jointly make contributions to the peace, stability and prosperity in the region and the world, Li said.
Li also told Modi that with concerted efforts by both sides, relations between China and India had developed significantly in recent years and the two countries had jointly explored a way to relate to each other, in which cooperation was actively explored and differences were properly managed and controlled. China has praised the contribution of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for his contribution to the development of ties in the last 10 years.