India, China must remain on constructive track despite concerns: ex-envoy

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businessfortnight.com

India and China must remain on a “constructive track” despite concerns on both sides over each other’s strategic ambitions, former Indian envoy to Beijing Ashok K Kantha said tonight.

Kantha, while delivering a lecture on China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI), discussed a wide gamut of issues concerning the two countries. Later, responding to a question on bilateral ties post-Doklam standoff, he said, “I won’t be surprised if there are more incidents along the India-China border.”

The situation in the South China Sea or the Doklam standoff are “exhibits that illustrate China’s mindset, that get reflected along the border,” the former Indian envoy to China said in his address. India and China are simultaneously emerging countries and they “must remain on a constructive track, despite various challenges, despite concerns on both sides over each other’s strategic ambitions, he said.

“That will be the biggest challenge in our foreign policy in the foreseeable future,” Kantha said. On Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale’s recent visit to Beijing, where he held talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and discussed a range of issues amidst continuing tensions in bilateral ties, Kantha said, “The primary objective was to lay the ground for PM Modi’s visit in June”.

China says over 60 countries have signed up for BRI investments. The BRI includes the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), over which India has protested as it traverses through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). “CPEC will continue to complicate our relationship with China, and our relationship with Pakistan.

There are three elements to BRI, the nature of the project, the implications of it and the modalities involved,” Kantha said. China in 2017 had said that India should shed its reservations over President Xi Jinping’s ambitious ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and join the project as it will not change Beijing’s stand on the Kashmir issue.

China has been reiterating that the CPEC which traverses though the PoK is a connectivity project and will not affect its stand that the Kashmir issue should be resolved between India and Pakistan through talks. On a question on China’s port in Djibouti, Kantha said, “It is first of many such facilities acquired by China. And, it is consistent with its (China’s) vision to maintain its presence in the IOR (Indian Ocean Rim).moneycontrol