Beijing: China on Thursday said that it has an “open attitude" for cooperation with India and Russia in the defence sector, downplaying reports that it has turned down a Russian proposal for a trilateral meet keeping Pakistan’s sensitivities in mind.
“China has an open attitude towards China-Russia-India cooperation in defence and is willing to maintain communication with all parties on meeting of leaders of ministries of defence of the three countries," Chinese defence ministry said in a written response to PTI in Beijing.
The ministry was responding to a query about reports that China had turned down a Russian proposal for the trilateral meet scheduled later this month apparently keeping the sensitivities of Pakistan in mind as well as New Delhi’s decision to permit the visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims as part of Southern Tibet.
However, Chinese official media termed the development of a strategic triangle “unrealistic", given the mutual distrust between China and India. The three countries have already got a mechanism called RIC (Russia, India, China) under which the foreign ministers of the three countries meet every year.
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“China has not conveyed any direct messages to India on this subject. But the question whether it is a suitable time to form an architecture of a security cooperation among the three regional powers remains to be addressed," an article in the state-run Global Times said about the defence ministers meeting proposed to be held later this month.
“With the absence of a trilateral security pattern involving Russia, China and India which are located in a single geopolitical space, the development of a strategic triangle would be however unrealistic now, given the mutual distrust between China and India," the article said.
India has long regarded China as a threat as it feels both are contesting for supremacy in regions such as South Asia and Southeast Asia and are vying for the same markets worldwide, it said. “Meanwhile, apart from India’s concerns over China’s relations with Pakistan, the border dispute remains another thorny issue. In spite of regular joint working group meetings and ministerial meetings between the two sides, there has been no substantial progress on the border issue," the article said.
“The latest Dalai Lama episode has further intensified the tensions between the two", it said. The article also took exception to Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s reported comments that the state shares its border only with Tibet, not with China which the Chinese foreign ministry yesterday criticised.
“During his visit to Tawang, the Dalai Lama and Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu made provocative political statements, which exceeded the scope of religious activities," the article said. “India has not only disregarded China’s territorial sovereignty, but also violated the political basis of Sino- Indian ties," it claimed.
On the trilateral defence cooperation, it triggered heated discussion in the West, especially the US when it was mooted by former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov in 1998, the report said. “Objectively speaking, among the relations among China, Russia and India, the relations between China and India are relatively weak. The India-Russia relationship in the past couple of decades had seen ups and downs, but it was able to stabilise and go back to normal thereafter. The ties between China and Russia have also been on a fast track given the bonhomie of the recent years," it said.
“The idea of the China-Russia-India strategic triangle need not be viewed as futile since an active and positive global role of the three countries could contribute to a more just and balanced world order that China has been promoting," it said. “But the basis of such a triangle is that the parties concerned respect the national interests of the others, which India should particularly take note of," it said