Ahead of Premier Wen Jiabao's upcoming visit, India on Friday hoped that China realises the need to show more sensitivity on core issues that impinge on the country's 'sovereignty and territorial integrity', as raised by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said the two countries were also putting in place more confidence building measures to tackle the vexed boundary issue, for which India is making a serious attempt to try to arrive at a "fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution".
Addressing a seminar on China-India relations, Rao talked about a host of issues which were a matter of concern to New Delhi, including Chinese presence in Pak-occupied Kashmir, issuance of stapled visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir and construction of dams on cross-border rivers.
"We believe that the India-China relationship will grow even stronger as China shows more sensitivity on core issues that impinge on our sovereignty and territorial integrity. We hope this can be realised," she said.
India has maintained that the activities of Chinese companies in Pak-occupied Kashmir were illegal and the issue has been raised with the Chinese leadership. The matter of stapled visa to Jammu and Kashmir residents has also been raised with Bejing.
"As India and China continue to pursue their interests, and so long as their overwhelming preoccupation remains their domestic transformation, and both understand that this goal requires a peaceful periphery, it is my firm conviction that the element of competition in the bilateral relationship can be managed and the element of congruence can be built upon," Rao said.
India has made known to China its concerns over the presence of Chinese companies in PoK and has put them under a scanner to check whether the same firms were active in the country as well. The Indian leadership is understood to have been 'quite frank' and 'hard-nosed' while raising these issues of concern in intense discussions with their Chinese counterparts.
Citing the recently concluded 14th round of talks between the Special Representatives on the boundary issue, Rao said, "The absence of the solution to the question is not due to the lack of effort but arises from the difficulty of the question".
She maintained that the India-China boundary was the most peaceful of all boundaries and both the countries have a 'well organised' set of measures to ensure peace and tranquillity on the boundary.
"We are currently talking to each other on establishing more such mechanisms," she said, adding that leaders on both the sides have shown the maturity to understand the complexity of the issue and to insulate it from affecting the broader relationship.
Rao said India has not hesitated in stressing its 'genuine concerns' regarding some aspects of the China-Pakistan relationship, particularly on China's role in PoK, its J&K policy and nuclear ties with Islamabad.
"The need for mutual sensitivity to each others concerns cannot be denied," she said, adding "the issue of giving stapled visas for Indian nationals from the state of Jammu and Kashmir arises in a similar context."
Rao said India was 'alert' to reports of China damming cross-border rivers and has sought assurances from Beijing that it will take no action to negatively affect the flow of the rivers into India.
"China has assured us that the projects on the Brahmaputra are run-of-the-river projects and are not meant for storing or diverting water," she said.
Citing Sino-India cooperation on various fora, including climate change and the trilateral with Russia, Rao said, "We hope such cooperation can also be strengthened on the important issue of United Nation's reforms" including on India's quest for a permanent membership of the UN Security Council.
She said, "We will be able to build common ground on issues related to the expansion of the Security Council and India's interest in permanent membership".
"As our interests get progressively more complex, the cost of any withdrawal from the engagement will rise. I believe this is a big relationship with a clear possibility of an ambitious agenda of mutual engagement that will be one of the most important bilateral engagements of our new century," Rao said.