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Home > News > Report

Chinese ambassador says they're watching the nuclear debate

Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | September 03, 2007 18:14 IST

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Coverage: Indo-US nuclear deal

In an interaction with women journalists on Friday, Chinese Ambassador Sun Yuxi gave an exceptional and in-depth insight into various issues between India and China. While pitching for his country's regional vision in South Asia, he said, "For any regional co-operation we want India to be with China."

He reminded the audience, consisting of women journalists who will shortly visit China, "Our leaders have said that if you are talking of an Asian century then you cannot do it with Japan [Images] or others, only India and China can make it together."
The most notable part of Sun's talk was his passion for Arunachal Pradesh rather than the Indo-US nuclear deal. Also, importantly for China, in some respects the growing Indo-Japan relations is an important area of interest rather than Indo-US relations.

He said China has no official comment to make on the nuclear deal, but "we are watching the debate very closely."

Asked if the Indo-US nuclear deal will change the regional balance, he replied that China would like to see, "What I am concerned about is non-proliferation, if the non-proliferation regime is being strengthened."

Probed whether the Indo-US nuclear deal strengthens nuclear non-proliferation, the ambassador said, "We are studying it."
He also said China will see what are the terms and conditions of negotiations conducted by India at the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

On Pakistan asking for a similar deal with China he quipped, "We didn't say anything. Pakistan colleagues are asking about it."

He candidly admitted that "this issue is already complicated enough," and refused to add the Pakistan angle to it.
When asked about the recent Shanghai Co-operation Organisation meeting where India was represented by Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, Ambassador Sun said, "We have invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [Images] to the SCO," and refused to comment on his absence even while strongly denying that SCO may become Asia's NATO; he said the SCO is more focused on issues like terrorism.

He also spoke eloquently about Arunachal Pradesh, on which China has made a claim, and said one should see the official maps of both countries and compare. The ambassador meant that both governments are aware there is a dispute, that's what is on the negotiating table and (the claims of both sides) under scrutiny at the high-level meeting between the two representatives from both sides.

Cautious in his remarks and not wanting to create any misunderstanding, he reiterated the well-known Chinese position that Arunachal is disputed territory.

From Sun's talk it was clear that China can cope with the fast-growing relations between India and the US.

He gave the feeling that Indo-US relations is something the Chinese can live with since China's own relationship with the US is so large. He reminded us mildly that China's relations with the US is much bigger than Indo-US relations. "We eat more McDonalds and wear more blue jeans than India," he commented.

China's trade with the US is ten times bigger than India's, and many more Americans live in China than in India.
He took in his stride issues like China's lack of democracy. He said at the lower level there are committees, and not the driver or the boss at the district level takes decisions. It has to be with the help of committees.

China has its own kind of democracy, he pointed out.

Sun revealed that when he was appointed as ambassador to India, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao told him to report back what all China can learn from India. Sun said he has been sending reports on India's legal system, information technology and education among other things.

"We have learnt a lot from India," he said.

With a top Chinese official around is it possible that the amazing statistics about China's development can be far behind?
He informed us that China's poverty level is 10 per cent of the population; around 1978 India was ahead of China in many sectors, but things have changed completely in the last 22 years.

China receives around 30 to 40 million travellers every year.

Sun says previously, hardly 10 per cent of Beijing's [Images] residents knew English but to get ready for the Olympics [Images] next year, the Chinese government took great efforts to teach English to the people. He even challenged journalists to talk to people on Beijing's streets to see for themselves.

He said around 50 per cent of the people now speak English, and the number will soon increase.

Sun spoke proudly about agriculture. He said China has one-fourth of the world's population but it has merely seven per cent of its arable land, but still manages to feed some 20 per cent of the world's population.

Sun also said Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama [Images] was not talking about autonomy or such issues with the Chinese. Sun gave an overall picture of Tibet which suggested that China's claim on Tibet is not even an issue left for negotiations and that its control over the kingdom is absolute.

When asked by the scribes who will be visiting Shanghai, Beijing and Lhasa what his tips for visitors to his country are, Sun said, "Talk to the people."

Sun emphasised that in China people are not aware of the controversy regarding the Indo-US nuclear deal. "People are interested in making big money." He said the Chinese people are united on one issue, and that is development. The whole country wants to make money and wants development.