China looks to step up ties with India in 2012

Beijing: China today said it will make concerted efforts with India to push for better and faster development of bilateral strategic and cooperative partnership in 2012 despite recurring hiccups casting a shadow over ties.

"China is willing to make joint efforts with India to continuously implement the important consensus reached between leaders of the two countries, maintain high-level exchanges, enhance strategic mutual trust, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields and properly handle issues concerning the bilateral relationship," Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin said.

"China hopes that the two sides will support each other and learn from each other, so as to push for better and faster development of Sino-Indian strategic and cooperative partnership," Liu told state-run Xinhua news agency.

The interview exclusively focussing on China-India ties was regarded significant by analysts here as it was rare for reticent Chinese officials to speak candidly evincing interest to give a positive push for the bilateral ties, which last year faced a string of challenges.

The two countries signed off 2011 on a positive note sorting out their differences on a host of issues including the vexed staple visa issue for Kashmiris and resumed defence ties after China reversed the policy after an year long hiatus.

A second Indian defence delegation is due on January 10 here after another visa row over China declining to grant visa to an IAF official from Arunachal Pradesh. India reduced the delegation strength from 30 to 15 to show its displeasure over Chinese move. The two countries also agreed to hold 15th round of border talks later this month. They were put off last month following China`s objections over Dalai Lama addressing a Buddhist conference around the same time.

The interview also came in the aftermath of the row of Indian diplomat fainting at a court in Yiwu where he went to secure the release of two Indians held illegally by Chinese traders following a dispute over unpaid dues by their company. It was sorted out though diplomatic consultation as the two Indians were released and brought to Shanghai. Earlier the two countries differed over ONGC Videsh taking up oil drilling in some of blocks claimed by Vietnam in South China Sea.

Without directly mentioning any of these incidents, Liu said China and India designated 2011 as their "year of exchange," adding that the activities hosted by the two sides helped the two countries increase their mutual understanding and friendship.

He "applauded" the growing momentum that China and India have maintained in developing their partnership, noting that the two nations have expanded exchange and cooperation in various fields and established effective communication and coordination on significant international and regional issues.

"A steadily growing Sino-Indian partnership will not only bring benefits to the two peoples, but it will also be conducive to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in Asia and the world at large," Liu said. Liu said the two-way trade between the two nations during the first 11 months of 2011 hit USD 67.28 billion, up 21.8 per cent year on year.

The first meeting of the China-India strategic and economic dialogue, the bilateral consultation on defence and security, and a 500-member Indian youth delegation visiting China also helped to foster closer ties between the two sides, Liu said.