Wuhan: China on Saturday said there is no fundamental difference with India on the issue of “inter-connectivity" and Beijing will “not be too hard" with New Delhi on the issue of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
The BRI, a multi-billion-dollar initiative launched by President Xi Jinping when he came to power in 2013, has become a major sticking point in the bilateral ties.
The BRI also includes the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which India opposes as it goes through Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK).
At the end of the two-day informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi in the central Chinese city, Chinese vice foreign minister Kong Xuanyou said, “we feel that there is no fundamental difference between China and India on the issue of supporting inter-connectivity." “The Indian side does not exclude this cooperation. It is also continuing to advance on interconnection. India is also a founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). It is the second largest shareholder of our region," Kong said. “As for whether India accepts the expression Belt and Road, I think it is not important and China will not be too hard on it," he said.
India had boycotted last year’s Belt and Road Forum organised by China. The BRI, a pet initiative of President Xi, is aimed at promoting network of roads, ports and rail networks all over the world to spread China’s influence.
Kong said both China and India seek a fair settlement of their border dispute. The two countries will also enhance military and security communication mechanisms, Kong said, referring to the India-China boundary issue.
Leaders of the two countries believe that China and India are friends and the development of China-India relations is trend of the times, he said.
Regarding the bilateral cooperation, the two sides agreed to sort out the existing mechanisms between the two countries to make communication between the two countries more effective, start bilateral negotiations as soon as possible, further expand bilateral trade, promote cultural cooperation and exchanges between the two countries as a whole, seeking fair and reasonable solution of border issues, he added.
To a question on Tibet, Kong said “the position of the Indian government is that Tibet is an inalienable part of China. This has not changed. In the process of promoting mutual political development, it is also an important political consensus reached by both sides."
He said there was no disagreement between the two leaders at the meeting. “The two sides can handle these issues on the consensus reached," he said.
China and India are both major global powers in this region. In the process of contact between the leaders of the two countries, it is inevitable to talk about the relationship between the two countries, and it is also a question that will inevitably be touched upon, Kong said.
To another question, he said both China and India pursue the idea of sharing and building a global governance. “China-India relations are not targeted at third parties. They will never engage in obsolete and out-of-date zero-sum games. They will not engage in closed and exclusive circles," he said.
“Sino-Indian relations will not be affected by other factors, either China or India. Both are major powers with great influence. Positive communication among great powers has injected positive factors into regional and world peace and stability," he said.