India can remain aloof only at its own peril to the challenges and opportunities presented by China's rapid ascendancy, Union External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said on Thursday.
Emphasising the growing relevance of China to India, 'whether in the precincts of the government, company boardrooms or in the markets streets,' Krishna said, "We can be aloof to the unfolding new challenges and opportunities presented by our largest neighbour's rapid ascendancy only at our own peril."
Acknowledging that 'it is not possible to have a perfect congruence of interests' between India and China, the minister, however, said India does not view China or China's development as a 'threat.'
"We recognise that competition and cooperation can overlap as it is not possible to have a perfect congruence of interests between the two nations," he said.
"Such competition or lack of cooperation must not be misunderstood as antagonism. Our differences when they exist, must be handled with dialogue and diplomacy," he said.
On the boundary issue between the two countries, he said the 'complexity' of Sino-Indian relations over unresolved boundary issues have not prevented mutually beneficial cooperation in a number of areas and talks to solve the vexed issue were on the right track.
"We need to recognise the complexity of relations posed by an unresolved boundary question. This is naturally an emotive issue for us," Krishna said while releasing two books on Sino-Indian relations.
Krishna said non-settlement of the boundary question has not prevented mutually beneficial and functional cooperation between India and China in a number of areas.
"Peace and tranquility has been preserved in the long India-China border for more than two decades and the plethora of confidence building measures put in place to reduce or eliminate the perception of threat from each other has worked satisfactorily well," he said.
On the economic front, Krishna said the discourse on China was central to the ongoing process of Asia's economic integration and emergence.
"China's sustained eye-catching growth over three decades and our own high growth in relatively recent times have largely pulled the centre of gravity of the world economy to this part of the world," he said.
He said India and China, because of their size, domestic market and unsaturated demand, hold promises for continued economic growth and show a way out of recession worldwide.
"We have mutual interest in each other's prosperity as our trade statistics and investment trends eloquently indicate," he said.
He also underlined the need for more people-to-people contact between the two countries. "Knowledge and scholarship of China in our country needs to be augmented to attain the maximum benefit from the rise of China," he said.