Beijing, Dec 5: India and China have been friends for 99.9 per cent of the time in over 2,000 years of exchanges between them, Beijing's chief negotiator in boundary talks Dai Bingguo says, underlining that the two sides should “cast off” the shadow of the 1962 war and build a bright future together.
“In over 2,000 years of exchanges between China and India, we have been friends for 99.9 per cent of the time, while unpleasant experience took up only 0.1 per cent,” 71-year-old Dai, who has had the longest engagement with India during the 15 rounds of border talks, said in an interview to PTI, his first ever to the Indian media.
As China's point man for India, Dai, who is set to retire in March next year, negotiated with four top Indian officials Brajesh Mishra, J N Dixit, M K Narayanan and present
National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon—on the border issue and normalisation of relations.
“More and more people of vision in India believe that our two countries should cast off the shadow of history in a forward-looking spirit, and the past should guide rather than hinder our endeavour to build a bright future together. I fully agree with this view,” he said.
“Nothing is impossible to a willing mind. As long as we are devoted to staying friends forever, never treat each other as enemy, pursue long-term peace and friendly co-existence and vigorously promote win-win cooperation, we will be capable of creating miracles to the benefit of our peoples and the entire mankind,” he said.
China, Dai said, is fully committed to pursuing peaceful development and developing friendly and cooperative relations with India.
In the wide-ranging interview, which follows the last round of talks he had with Menon here on December 3 to finalise a common understanding of the progress made in the border talks since 2005, Dai gave carefully weighed written answers, covering progress made in the boundary negotiations, China's all-weather ties with Pakistan and his assessment of India's foreign policy.
Outlining his thoughts for future Chinese negotiators on India, Dai said India cannot be “wooed or ordered” around by anyone as it pursued an independent foreign policy.
“In my view, India is a country of strategic independence. It will not be wooed or ordered about by anyone else. Being a forerunner of the Non-Aligned Movement and a large emerging country with growing international influence, India will stick to its traditional independent foreign policy and contribute to the peace and development of the region and beyond,” he said, answering a question on China's apprehensions about US courting India to be a close ally.
“China welcomes the efforts of India and the US to grow normal relations on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and hopes that their cooperation will promote peace and stability of the region,” he said, hoping that the “shift of US Asia-Pacific strategy will be in keeping with the trend of the times and meet common aspiration of the region for more stability, closer cooperation and common development.”
Hailing from minority Tujia community, Dai was groomed into Chinese diplomacy from the days of Mao and accomplished the tough task of normalising China-Russia ties, repairing the deep ideological divide before taking up the task of rebuilding Sino-India ties.
As a top diplomat during the decade-long stint of outgoing President Hu Jintao, Dai argues that there is no “hidden agenda” in Beijing's much touted “all-weather” ties with Islamabad.
“Pakistan is a neighbour and traditional friend of China. China and Pakistan have developed relations in an open and aboveboard manner. There is no hidden agenda, and the relationship is not targeted at any third party,” he said.
China provides Pakistan with economic and humanitarian assistance and carries out cooperation in various areas, he said. “It is conducive to the stability and development of Pakistan and consistent with the interests of all countries in the region,” he said.
But at the same time, Dai said, “both India and Pakistan are close neighbours and friends of China.”
“We sincerely hope that India and Pakistan will have a friendly relationship, and applaud the improvement in their relations. China will work with India and Pakistan to build sound and mutually-reinforcing relations between our three countries and create a peaceful and stable regional environment based on equality, mutual trust and win-win cooperation,” Dai said.
On the India-China border issue for which he has been China's Special Representative for all the 15 rounds held so far, Dai said since the start of the boundary talks in 1979, China and India have worked “relentlessly to push forward the negotiations and achieved some positive results.”
“The boundary question, an issue left over from history, is highly complicated. An early settlement will serve the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples.
“I believe that in seeking the settlement, we should always bear in mind the overall interest of the bilateral relations, act in the spirit of peace, friendship, equal-footed consultation, mutual respect and mutual accommodation, and work to narrow differences and expand common ground,” Dai said.
“If we work in this way, we will find a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement. I hope that the Special Representatives from both sides will keep up the good work and finish the negotiation,” he said.
Outlining the progress, he said in “we took an innovative step and set up the Special Representatives' meeting mechanism” in 2003.