Chinese ambassador to New Delhi Luo Zhaohui, while referring to frosty Indo-Pakistan ties, said China was willing to mediate to resolve the differences between the two countries if it was acceptable to both sides.
“It has no connections to or impact on sovereignty issues. Even we can think about renaming the CPEC. China and India have had successful experience of delinking sovereignty disputes from bilateral relations before,” he said in closed door address to a think-tank on Friday.
India has been severely critical of the CPEC, saying the project violates its sovereignty as it runs through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
Maintaining that China and India could be natural partners in connectivity and the OBOR, the Chinese ambassador said Indian economy was behind China by at least 13 years, suggesting New Delhi should grab economic opportunities offered by Beijing.
Referring to the view in India that China always puts Pakistan first when handling its relations with South Asian countries, he said the government always follows “China first” policy and that problems are dealt on merit.
“I want to tell you this is not true. Simply put, we always put China first and we deal with problems based on their own merits. Take Kashmir issue for example, we supported the relevant UN resolutions before 1990s. Then we supported a settlement through bilateral negotiation in line with the Simla Agreement. This is an example of China taking care of India’s concern,” he said.
The envoy also proposed a four-point initiative to improve ties between India and China which includes aligning its ‘OBOR’ project with India’s ‘Act East Policy’, and restarting negotiations on a free trade pact.
“Firstly, start negotiation on a China-India Treaty of Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation. Secondly, restart negotiation of China-India Free Trade Agreement. Thirdly, strive for an early harvest on the border issue. Fourthly, actively explore the feasibility of aligning China’s ‘One Belt One Road Initiative’ (OBOR) and India’s ‘Act East Policy’,” he said.
He said good ties between India and China were conducive to regional stability.
The development of China, India, Pakistan and the stability of the whole region call for a stable and friendly environment, he said.
“When the Mumbai terrorist Attack on November 26, 2008, took place, I was Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, and I did a lot of mediation at that time,” he said.
On trade ties between the two countries, Luo said he was happy to see that China had contributed its share to India’s development.
“Today, China is the second largest economy in the world, with a GDP of 11 trillion US dollars. China’s development also benefited from India’s participation,” he said.