Capping a visit that was termed by the Chinese leadership as "a great success", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Thursday that maintaining peace on the India-China border is essential for mutual confidence and to boost ties. "We should do nothing to disturb that."
Addressing the all-powerful Central Party School of the Communist Party, a rare honour, the prime minister said India and China can achieve peace on their 4,000-km disputed boundary by adhering to their agreements and utilising their bilateral mechanisms effectively.
"At the same time we should move to quickly resolve our boundary issue," he said.
The prime minister outlined eight areas, including infrastructure and manufacturing and tackling terrorism and extremism, in which he saw opportunities for both countries to cooperate.
"The benefits of cooperation far outweigh any presumed gains from containment. Therefore, we should engage with each other in a spirit of equality and friendship and with the confidence that neither country is a threat to the other," the prime minister said to middle-aged "students" at the Central Party School.
He said since the visit of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi 25 years ago, India-China ties have prospered and cooperation has expanded. "This is because we have managed our differences and have in general kept our border regions tranquil. At the same time we continue to make progress on resolving our border dispute."
The prime minister said the stability in their relations have created the basic conditions for both sides to exploit the opportunities created by their economic growth and opening.
He said China has emerged as one of India’s largest economic partners. But both sides too have concerns - whether incidents on their border, trans-border rivers or the trade imbalance.
He added that their experiences have shown these issues can become impediments to the exploitation of the opportunities for bilateral and multilateral cooperation.
He outlined seven practical principles of engagement that he said he believed could help them tap the possibilities of closer cooperation.
These included conducting the relationship in a spirit of mutual respect; sensitivity to each other’s interests and sovereignty and mutual and equal security; maintaining peace and tranquillity on the border which is the cornerstone of their ties; and increase in consultations on complex issues like trans border river and trade imbalance.
It also includes maintaining high level of strategic communications and consultations in a spirit of transparency on the region and periphery eliminating misunderstanding as well as increasing people to people contacts.
“Like a beautiful tangram...principles would together create a beautiful tapestry of India-China relations in the years ahead,” he said.
Manmohan Singh said he was pleased with the agreements inked, which included a key accord to maintain peace on the border, on trans-border rivers.
“As officials who will determine public policy, I hope you will do everything to advance our cooperation and promote India-China relations from your positions of responsibility,” he said.
He said the world is large enough to accommodate the development aspirations of both countries.
“We were not destined to be rivals, and we should show determination to become partners.”