Li Keqiang

Li Keqiang allays India's containment fears, urges better co-operation

China has no plan to contain neighbour but wants to step up working ties and resolve border disputes, premier tells New Delhi

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 May, 2013, 4:30am

Premier Li Keqiang said yesterday that China had no intention of containing India and called on both nations to step up co-operation in South Asian affairs and resolve border disputes.

Wrapping up his maiden diplomatic trip to New Delhi, Li played down fears that China posed a threat to India, and said Beijing supported New Delhi playing a bigger role in the United Nations Security Council.

Preparations for Li's trip were overshadowed by a three-week border stand-off after India alleged that Chinese troops had intruded into its territory in the Depsang Valley in Ladakh, triggering concerns that China was becoming more aggressive.

Li told members of New Delhi's Chinese community that preparations for his trip had been affected by some "not so serious complications", and the Sino-Indian relationship had entered a "critical stage" where common interests overrode differences.

In a later speech at an event organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs think tank, Li said "China and India should not be a threat and containment to each other".

China would stick to a peaceful development path, Li said, adding China was mindful of the Confucian teaching "do not do to others what you would not like to be done to you".

His trip coincided with growing resentment in India over perceptions that China is encircling India by building stronger ties with other South Asian nations, particularly through giving military support to Pakistan.

But Li said China and India both wanted a peaceful and prosperous South Asia, which was crucial for China as it wanted to focus on internal issues and narrow the development gap between eastern and western China.

India's "Look East" policy of strengthening ties with East Asian nations was complementary to China's aim to develop its western region, he said.

Li added that China also supported and understood India's desire to play a bigger role in the UN Security Council.

"China and India are the two biggest developing nations, and their roles in global affairs should be strengthened. China is willing to see India playing a bigger role in international affairs."

Wang Dehua , a South Asian studies specialist at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said he expected that India and China would co-operate on Afghanistan affairs after the withdrawal of American troops from the country. But he said it was unlikely that Beijing would support New Delhi's bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

"China welcomes more voices of developing countries to be heard," he said. "But India is close to Japan as well, and having India as a permanent member may add to Tokyo's influence on the security council."

The two sides released a joint statement yesterday pledging co-operation and agreeing to hold a fresh round of border talks.

Li called for the enhancement of mutual trust and the early resolution of border disputes.

"China and India have the wisdom to tackle the differences among themselves," he said.