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Let's dance, not fight: China

Beijing: China on Thursday presented an upbeat picture of its ties with India and said both countries should shed suspicion and manage differences by meeting each other halfway, a change from the tough talk after the Doklam stand-off.

Foreign minister Wang Yi addressed a news conference outlining Beijing's foreign policy perspectives in what is called a "new era".

Last year, Wang had refused to answer a question on ties with India.

He took a question on India on Thursday in the carefully choreographed media event telecast live on the sidelines of the annual session of the legislature.

Asked how China viewed relations with India this year after turbulence in ties in 2017 because of Doklam and a host of other issues, Wang sought to strike a chord with the neighbour, calling for both the countries to shed a confrontationist stance on issues of differences.

"The Chinese dragon and the Indian elephant must not fight each other but dance with each other," he said, adding: "If China and India are united, one plus one is not equal to two but 11."

"Despite some tests and difficulties, the China-India relationship continues to grow," Wang said.

In an apparent reference to concerns in India over forays being made by Beijing in India's close neighbourhood, Wang said: "China is upholding its rights and legitimate interests and taking care to preserve its relationship with India."

"Chinese and Indian leaders have developed a strategic vision for the future of our relations," he said. "The international situation is experiencing its biggest change in a century.... China and India must do everything to emphasise this and support each other and avoid mutual suspicion and attrition," Wang said.

"Mutual trust is the most precious commodity in China-India relations. With political trust, not even the Himalayas can stop us from friendly exchanges. Without it not even levelled land can bring us together," he said.

Wang also sought to convey a message to the people of India in general to improve China's image.

"A shared understanding far outstrips our differences. Our common interests far outweigh our frictions. China is willing and ready to inherit and take foreword our traditional friendship and be a friend and partner of the Indian people," he said.

"I hope the two sides will be free from inhibitions and meet each other halfway. Let us replace suspicion with trust, manage differences with dialogue and build a future with cooperation," Wang said.

The foreign minister, however, reacted strongly to a question whether the Indo-Pacific strategy being furthered by India, the US, Japan and Australia would affect China's Obor project.

He said there was "no shortage of headline-grabbing ideas", but they were "like the foam on the sea" that "gets attention but will soon dissipate".

Contrary to claims made by some academics and media outlets that the strategy was aimed at containing China, the four countries have made it clear that it targets no one, Wang said. "I hope they mean what they say," he said. PTI

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