China, India should stabilize warming ties with concrete steps

The China-India relationship is entering a phase of readjustment, and the two countries should make efforts to stabilize their relations warmed by the April meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said a Chinese diplomat.

Luo Zhaohui, Chinese ambassador to India, made the remarks in a keynote speech at a recent seminar organized by the Pangoal Institution in Beijing.

"The friendship between the leaders of the two countries should develop into the amity of the people. The two countries should promote the development of their relations by putting into practice the consensus reached by the two leaders," said Luo, referring the April summit between Xi and Modi, which opened a new chapter for the bilateral relations after the border standoff in the Donglang area last year.

In April, Xi hosted Modi for a meeting in Wuhan aimed at mending ties soured by last year's border dispute which lasted for months. At the time, some observers thought that it was Modi's effort to know whether Beijing could put aside the dispute to reset bilateral ties.

Twists and turns are part of the China-India relationship, said Luo, citing the trade figure which reached a record high of 84.4 billion yuan last year. Chinese smartphone brands enjoy popularity in India, while India's films and yoga are sought-after in China. In addition, the two countries created 15 pairs of sister cities last year, said Luo.

The ambassador also mentioned the "Indo-Pacific" strategy put forward by the United States, saying that it is not a pure boon for India because it will allow the American forces to step in the affairs in the Indian Ocean, muddying the waters in the region.

Luo agreed on the recent remarks by a top Indian navy officer that the alliance of the United States, Japan, India and Australia could not defend India against China when military conflicts break out in the region, saying that the world's two largest developing countries should "explore new ways to get along with each other."

In May, Sunil Lanba, the chief of the Indian Navy, straightforwardly expressed his reservation about having a military dimension applied to the proposed quad alliance. "We have to be cognizant of the fact that among the Quad members we are the only one who has the land border with China. Can we expect any members of the Quad, in case there is a difference of opinion and conflict on our northern border, to come to our rescue? Nobody will come and hold your hand," said Lanba. Lanba also specifically mentioned the "uncertainty of America", saying that the Trump administration remained silent during the Donglang crisis.

In the keynote speech, Luo suggested that China and India should coordinate their development strategies in concrete steps to build a community of common destiny.

Luo feels confident about the prospects of the China-India cooperation even though India is still doubtful of the Beijing-backed Belt and Road Initiative. After the Wuhan meeting, India has put forth a proposal to accelerate the construction of the China-India Economic Corridor and shown support to strengthening connectivity advocated by the Belt and Road Initiative, said Luo. In addition, India is the second-largest shareholder in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which the ambassador said is another sign of Indian support to the Belt and Road Initiative.

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