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China no longer a threat: Ranganathan
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi |
June 17, 2003 12:20 IST
A former Indian ambassador to Beijing believes China is no longer seen as a threat to India and has emerged as an opportunity for Indian businessmen.
C V Ranganathan, currently the convener of the National Security Advisory Board, told rediff.com, ''India and China are significant partners. Ten years back trade between the two countries was merely $250 million. Now it is $5 billion. Investors are growing in both countries."
Highlighting the importance of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's June 22-27 visit to China, he said, "The last visit to China by an Indian prime minister was 10 years ago. Such a gap should not be allowed. I am glad the prime minister is visiting China."
Ranganathan, who is considered one of India's leading experts on China, felt Vajpayee's visit would have a wide-ranging agenda.
"The agenda before the two nations is rapidly changing in the international context. We are two large countries and the most populated. Both countries' economic growth is impressive. Both countries have the two biggest markets. Both can play a major role in the region in the changed international context," he said.
Asked if India and China would discuss multi-polarity in the new world order, Ranganathan said, "Multi-polarity is a vague word. Don't harp on such terms. There are many regional and international issues. China's border extends from South Asia to East Asia. In the neighborhood, China is a major player. The same way, India's border extends from South Asia to South East Asia. Both have interests in the stability of the regions and will like to ensure each other's cooperation in maintaining stability."
"China is a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. India has a deep interest in its objectives -- anti-terrorism, anti-secession and anti-religious fundamentalism."
Ranganathan felt Vajpayee may discuss Afghanistan with the Chinese leadership. "Both countries want to see a stable Afghanistan," he said.
The ambassador felt there was no tension in the Sino-Indian border dispute. "Where is there a conflict over border disputes?" he asked. "India and China do not have any tension over the issue. Both countries' armies know well where to be stationed."
Indian newspapers have speculated that China would finally recognise the 1975 merger of Sikkim into the Indian Union during the Vajpayee visit. Ranganathan felt, "It's a non-issue. If China wants to open up the old Silk Route it will benefit India too. China has never disputed the Sikkim-Tibet border."
He clarified that both countries have a few common interests and a few differing interests. Vajpayee will pursue the common interests between India and China, he added.
Ranganathan reacted angrily when asked if India's increasingly close relations with the United States are a matter of concern for China.
''Chinese-US relations are full of substance. They cover many aspects. America will not leverage India against China. Neither will China do that. They are much more closer than India and America are. Where is the question of America using the India card or India using the US card?"