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India-China Mark 70 Years of Diplomatic Relations, Beijing Urges Solidarity Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

© REUTERS / Bikas DasAn Indian man wearing a mask talks on his mobile phone at a government run hospital where a special ward has been set aside for possible COVID-19 patients in Kolkata, India, Friday, March 6, 2020
An Indian man wearing a mask talks on his mobile phone at a government run hospital where a special ward has been set aside for possible COVID-19 patients in Kolkata, India, Friday, March 6, 2020 - Sputnik International
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New Delhi (Sputnik): In 1950, India became the first non-communist country in Asia to establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. They then established five principles for peaceful coexistence –mutual respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity, equality, non-interference in internal affairs and collective benefit.

Wednesday marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and China. Sun Weidong, China's envoy to New Delhi, expressed confidence that both countries are “partners sailing in the same boat” in the context of the current Coronavirus pandemic.

In a series of tweets, Weidong stated that today both the countries are partners sailing in the same boat and helping each other in the collective fight against COVID-19.

“At this moment, it's imperative to recall original aspiration, carry forward spirit of good-neighbourly friendship, explore on how to coexist with each other between major neighbouring countries,” the Chinese Ambassador wrote on Twitter.

Quoting Chinese President Xi Jinping, Weidong said, “If China and India speak in one voice, the whole world will listen.”

​Weidong also noted that in this hour of distress, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent a letter of condolence to President Jinping, expressing grief over the thousands of Chinese who'd lost their lives to the pandemic COVID-19, as well as gratitude for the medical assistance China had provided to his country.

Adhering to the five principles of peaceful coexistence, the two sides have thus far tried to tackle and untangle their border demarcation issues in a peaceful and friendly manner.

President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi also adopted “hometown diplomacy” after 2013, to improve personal and diplomatic relations between the Asian powers.

As part of the “hometown diplomacy” pact, two informal summits, in Wuhan, China and Chennai, India, have already been held, in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

Both leaders addressed citizen-exchange aspects at different levels including academia, business, defence forces as well as legislature. The two sides also decided to engage in cooperative projects in studying ancient maritime links between India and China through the establishment of sister-state relations between the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and China's Fujian province.

The relations between India and China have however, remained bitter sweet.

In November 2019, Prime Minister Modi withdrew India from the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), citing China’s "uncompromising" stance on market access and non-tariff barriers.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry had also objected to the visit of Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah’s to Arunachal Pradesh, saying that Beijing would never recognise the de facto borders of India's northeastern-most state.

 

The informal summit in Chennai was intended to strengthen Indo-China relations but just a month later, the Coronavirus outbreak disrupted virtually all international trade.

The origin of the Coronavirus is currently a matter of debate; Chinese ministers have accused the US military of carrying the virus to China – from where it supposedly broke loose.

Currently, India is under a 21-day national lockdown as a precautionary measure to prevent the further spread of the viral infection. According to the federal Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India currently has 1,238 active cases of COVID-19. A total of 35 deaths have also been recorded in the country. At the same time, it has also registered an impressive recovery rate of 10 percent of those infected. 

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