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    Indian army soldiers keep watch at the Indo China border in Bumla at an altitude of 15,700 feet (4,700 meters) above sea level in Arunachal Pradesh, India. (File)

    India Underestimated Importance of Friendly Relations With China - Professor

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    India’s decision to change Kashmir’s legal status will not impact moves by Beijing and New Delhi to develop high level contacts and to work together on humanitarian projects, as evidenced by recent Chinese-Indian talks in Beijing.

    Yu Longyu, a professor and director of the Centre for Indian Studies at Shenzhen University, said that the Kashmir issue should be resolved gradually, while describing India’s actions in the region as unacceptable.

    India’s Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar arrived in Beijing on Sunday 11 August, immediately after urgent Sino-Pakistani consultations were held there on Friday, following a decision by India to review Kashmir’s legal status. During these talks, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi assured his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, that Pakistan enjoyed the support of Beijing.

    But Jaishankar’s visit went ahead as planned the following day despite the fact that New Delhi’s decision to revise the status of Kashmir has impacted the interests of China as well as Pakistan. Judging by official Chinese reports, as well as the Indian media, the Kashmir question did not dominate the talks.

    Indian media drew particular attention to Jaishankar’s remark that Sino-Indian relations should be a force for stability at a time when the world is faced with uncertainty. The Chinese state-owned television company quoted Jaishankar as saying that China and India should "respect and take into account" each other’s different views and step up ties to properly resolve their differences based on "consensus between the leaders of the two countries".

    The assessments of the Chinese side were rather rigid but at the same time conciliatory, and without hostility. Wang Yi noted that China is “very concerned” about the situation in Kashmir and the intensification of the India-Pakistan conflict, and his comments were seen as an indirect criticism of India while stopping short of being a direct condemnation of its actions.

    This view was shared by Yu Longyu: “The problems of Kashmir and the Sino-Indian border are old problems inherited from history; they should be resolved gradually within the historical process. As a result of numerous consultations, China and India have found ways and means to resolve border disputes step-by-step. Therefore, I personally consider such behaviour of India (changing the legal status of Kashmir) absolutely unacceptable on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and India”, he said.

    “This approach of India does not reflect the fundamental interests of all the people of India. The relevant authorities of this country incorrectly assessed both their forces and the strength of China. They did not pay enough attention to this problem and do not understand the geopolitical importance of friendly relations between China and India. The cohesion of China and India will have a tremendous effect, bringing significant benefits to India. Relevant parties in India must understand this truth. Minister Wang Yi’s statements on this issue are sincere, they reflect China’s invariably friendly attitude and show that China is not just a friend of India but its faithful and sincere partner, whose position really matters”, he added.

    The Indian press looked favourably on the Beijing talks. The Times of India quoted Jaishankar as saying that he had discussed with Wang Yi “a full range of issues regarding the international situation, regional aspects and very important bilateral relations”. The minister noted that “the discussions were especially significant, as we are preparing for the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India for the second informal summit at the end of the year”.

    The Economic Times suggested that India’s long-standing concern over trade deficits with China were one of the topics at the Beijing talks. The newspaper notes that Chinese representatives are negotiating with their Indian counterparts to increase imports of pharmaceutical products and information technologies from India, in addition to agricultural products. The Indian side is looking for major Chinese investments for Narendra Modi's nationwide ‘Make in India’ project.

    In a similar vein, the Indian news network News18 noted on Monday that China had proposed expanding cooperation in areas such as industrial production, tourism and cross-border trade to achieve a “common balance” in bilateral commercial relations.

    The Indian foreign minister noted “some progress” in economic relations with China, in particular in the development of trade. Speaking at the meeting of the China-India high-level people-to-people exchanges mechanism, Jaishankar praised the steps taken by the Chinese side in recent months to increase imports from India. Wang Yi drew attention to the fact that this mechanism was created on the initiative of Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi and became an “important platform for the comprehensive development of bilateral relations.” In 2018, India’s trade deficit exceeded $57.86 billion based on bilateral trade of $95.5 billion. Following the meeting, four agreements were signed on expanding cooperation in the fields of culture, sports, traditional medicine, and the museum sector.

    Jaishankar’s visit to China was the first by an official of this rank since the re-election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May. Previously, Jaishankar served as India’s Ambassador to China from 2009 to 2013.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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