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Beijing bid to allay Delhi’s security fears

New Delhi, June 10: Ahead of Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s official visit to China, the leadership in Beijing has assured Delhi that it neither poses a security threat to India nor does it have any desire to control it.

China’s views were expressed by its ambassador in Delhi, Hua Junduo, in a signed article distributed to major Indian newspapers this afternoon.

“China has repeatedly stated that it hopes to see a developed and prosperous India, an India that plays a greater and more active role in world affairs,” Hua said.

However, the envoy stopped short of expressing Beijing’s unconditional support for India’s candidature in the UN Security Council — a decision Delhi feels will go a long way in building confidence between the neighbours.

Interestingly, Hua’s article, which has obviously been vetted by Beijing, has been made available to media here less than a fortnight before the Prime Minister’s visit to China. The Prime Minister will tour China from June 22 to 26.

The Chinese move is being viewed by the Indian establishment as part of a major public relations exercise to convince sceptics in Delhi that it intends to build strong ties with its neighbour.

Vajpayee’s visit will be the first by a Prime Minister to China since P.V. Narasimha Rao travelled there in 1993. A lot of importance is being attached to the visit by both countries.

The Chinese ambassador identified the lack of mutual understanding as the main stumbling block in Sino-Indian relations.

“In my view, it is nothing other than the inadequacy in mutual understanding between our two peoples,” the ambassador said.

The envoy said most Chinese knew about India “only from disaster reports carried by television”.

He added that most were ignorant of India’s successes in agriculture, industry, software and other scientific and high-tech fields.

“Indian films enjoyed here are oldies like Awara; people are unaware that apart from Hollywood, there is Bollywood in the east, home to hundreds of movies per year,” Hua said.

The envoy said that few in India knew much about changes in China and how the country had developed.

“What is more, many are sceptical about China, thinking it is either a threat or trying to contain India. Obviously, this is a misconception, for they fail to see that China and India share enormous interests and have a common interest in maintaining regional and global stability, safeguarding national independence and developing their economy.”

Hua said the two major agreements signed by India and China to maintain border peace as well as the confidence-building military measures had been quite successful.

Claiming that bilateral relations were improving, the envoy said the neighbours were in the process of “clarifying and confirming” the Line of Actual Control.

Stressing that China’s security was based on mutual trust, equality and regional co-operation, Hua said Beijing had been trying to resolve its differences with neighbours through dialogue to maintain peace and stability in the area.

The envoy described the co-operation in trade as the “most dynamic area” in their relationship, saying “striking progress has been made”.

Referring to last year’s trade figures of $5 billion and 70.8 per cent growth in the first four months of this year, Hua said if the neighbours continued to work together, a target of $10 billion could be easily achieved in a few years.

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