Chinese envoy pitches for India-China-Pakistan trilateral meet

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New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) With India and Pakistan being made full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui on Monday pitched the concept of an India-China-Pakistan trilateral meeting under the SCO framework.

“Security cooperation is one of three pillars of the SCO,” Luo said in his keynote speech at a seminar on “Beyond Wuhan: How far and fast can China-India relations go” organised by the Chinese Embassy here.

“Some Indian friends suggested that China, India and Pakistan may have some kind of trilateral cooperation under the SCO,” he said.

“China, Russia and Mongolia already meet under the SCO framework. So, why not a China-India-Pakistan trilateral meeting?”

The SCO is an Eurasian inter-governmental organisation, the creation of which was announced in 2001 in Shanghai by Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. It was preceded by the Shanghai Five mechanism.

India and Pakistan were granted full membership of the bloc in June last year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart attended the annual SCO Summit in Qingdao, China, this month as full members for the first time.

Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Summit.

The meeting came over a month after the two leaders’ historic informal summit on April 27-28 in Wuhan on the Chinese President’s invitation when they pledged to keep the India-China border quiet and personally guide their respective armies to avert a Doklam-like military stand-off in future.

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In his speech on Monday, Luo said that in the Qingdao meeting, both Modi and Xi focused on implementation of the consensus reached during the Wuhan informal summit.

“In Qingdao, the two leaders agreed to hold the second round of informal summit next year. This is the most significant outcome of the meeting,” he said.

The Ambassador also said that China has taken note of Modi’s keynote speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore earlier this month during which he said that “Asia and the world will have a better future when India and China work together in trust and confidence, sensitive to each other’s interests”.

He said the Chinese Defence Minister and Minister for Public Security will visit India while the Special Representatives’ meeting on the boundary issue will be held in Beijing this year.

“The two Foreign Ministers (Sushma Swaraj of India and Wang Yi of China) will co-chair the first meeting of high-level people-to-people and cultural exchange mechanism,” he said.

Stating that China will import more sugar, non-Basmati rice and high quality medicines from India to reduce the trade imbalance, Luo said that a new bilateral trade target has been set for $100 billion by 2022.

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“India agreed to facilitate the establishment of Bank of China branch office in Mumbai,” he said.

“The two sides agreed to share hydro-logical information concerning cross-border rivers and enhance connectivity in the region including the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar) cooperation projects.”

Referring to the decision taken during the Wuhan meeting for a India-China joint project in Afghanistan, Luo said this will start off with a joint training programme for Afghan civil servants.

He said that though both countries share a history of friendly interactiomns, there were pending boundary issues.

“From the perspective of domestic development, both countries are at the critical stage of economic development, deepening reform and advancing modernisation,” the Ambassador said.

He also share the fields of priority with 5Cs to promote China-India relations: communication, cooperation, contacts, coordination and control.

“Besides the informal summits, the two leaders (Modi and Xi) agreed to maintain strategic communication in different forms such as phone conversation, correspondence, meetings,” Luo said.

“Certainly they will meet again during BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit in South Africa in July and probably G20 Summit in Argentina in November.”

In terms of economic cooperation, Luo said that China was India’s largest trading partner. Last year, the bilateral trade volume reached $84.4 billion.

“More than 800 Chinese companies are investing and doing business in India, creating over one lakh job opportunities for India,” he said.

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He also stressed on people-to-people contacts to strengthen mutual understanding between the people of the two countries.

“We should give full play to the high-level people-to-people and cultural exchange mechanism to enhance exchanges in the fields of movie, sports, tourism, museum and youth,” he said.

Luo also called coordination between India and China on regional and international issues.

“China-India relations have gone beyond bilateral scope. We have broad converging interests and face common challenges in Asia and beyond,” he said.

“We need to enhance cooperation in SCO, BRICS, G20 and join hands to tackle global challenges to forge global economic integration, free trade and multilateralism. We should continue to push forward “China India Plus” cooperation.”

Finally, he called for control and management of differences between the two sides.

“India is our immediate neighbor. It’s quite natural to have differences with neighbors. We need to narrow differences through expanding cooperation. However, it does not mean that differences would be ignored,” Luo said.

“The boundary question between our two countries was left over by history. We need to build on convergence to find a mutual acceptable solution through the Special Representatives’ meeting while adopting confidence building measures to maintain the peace and tranquility along the border.”

–IANS

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