The cardinal principle of India’s relationship with China is expanding areas of agreement and reducing divergence, President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said ahead of his talks with top Chinese leaders during which he is likely to raise issues like India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
"We have never indulged in expanding divergence but reducing divergence and expanding areas of agreement. This is the cardinal principle of Indian diplomacy,” Mukherjee said, starting his four-day visit to China from this southern Chinese industrial hub.
Addressing the Indian community at a reception hosted by India’s ambassador to China Vijay Gokhale, he cited examples of growing cooperation between India and China in various multilateral fora like the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and BRICS and said the two countries have worked in close cooperation with each other in these institutions.
During his first state visit to China, the President will be meeting his counterpart Xi Jinping on Thursday besides holding delegation-level talks with him. He will also meet Premier Li Keqiang and other top leaders.
He is likely to raise the issue of China blocking India’s bid to get a UN ban on Jaish-e Mohammed chief Masood Azhar and its insistence on India signing the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to get membership of the elite NSG.
Mukherjee, who is making his first visit as head of state but has made a number of trips to China in various capacities during his long political career, is expected to convey India’s concerns on these issues and present India's views on how it felt strongly on them, sources said.
Issues of mutual interest like the festering border dispute and ongoing mechanism to resolve the problem will figure in his discussions with the Chinese leadership.
India’s stand on the nuclear issue assumes significance in the context of the scheduled meeting of the 48-member NSG in South Korea next month when it is expected to make its bid strongly for membership of the nuclear club.
The sources rejected Beijing's new insistence on India signing the NPT for gaining membership of the NSG or its dismissal of New Delhi’s stand that France had not signed the NPT when it became a member of the NSG.
Officials pointed out that the NSG is a consensus-based regime and not a treaty.
In his speech on Tuesday, the President recalled that as commerce minister a couple of decades ago he had wondered how the World Trade Organisation could function without China.
“You can't have WTO without China...the presence of China must be there. We work in close cooperation with each other,” he said.
Mukherjee said Prime Minister Narendra Nodi and Chinese President Xi Jinping Would be meeting soon on the margins of G-20 summit scheduled to be held in China later this year.
Referring to the global economic meltdown in the wake of the US financial crisis in 2008, he said India and China greatly contributed to stabilising global economic with their economies.
Mukherjee said the Indian economy has been growing steadily in the last decade and was growing at 7.6 per cent now.
“We have the potential if 2.5 billion plus people of the two countries can work together and cooperate and diversify their activities,” he said.
The President said the sharing of best practices and developmental experiences have great opportunities for stabilising prosperity and pushing the forward march.
Touching on the phenomenal expansion of relationship between India and China, Mukherjee said the bilateral trade which was just $2.9 billion (Rs 18,850 crore) in 2000 has gone up to $71 billion (Rs 4.61 lakh crore) now.
“We believe there is immense potentiality if trade and investment and mutual expansion of cooperation takes place between the two countries,” he said.