There Is Certain Amount Of Assertiveness By China, Says PM

Against the backdrop of some provocative steps by China, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said there was "certain amount of assertiveness" by China lately, which had to be taken note of.  In a hard-hitting statement,
there is certain amount of assertiveness by china...
PTI November 24, 2009 21:57 IST

Against the backdrop of some provocative steps by China, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said there was "certain amount of assertiveness" by China lately, which had to be taken note of. 

In a hard-hitting statement, he also sought to ridicule China's growth, suggesting that it was achieved by the "writ of the ruling group in an undemocratic set-up" while ignoring values like respect for human rights and multi-ethnic and multi-cultural rights. 

"There is certain amount of assertiveness on the part of Chinese. I don't fully understand the reasons for it. That has to be taken note of," Singh said during an interaction at the US Council for Foreign Relations in Washington. 

He did not elaborate but the statement assumes significance considering that China has recently been involved in some provocative steps like issuing visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir on stapled sheets of paper rather than passport, to send out a message that the state was not a part of India. 

Besides, China has objected to the Prime Minister's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, is participating in projects in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir despite India's objections and mentioned Indo-Pak relations in Joint Statement with the US. 

Singh said India has been "trying hard" to engage China over the last five years in an attempt to resolve the dispute through dialogue. 

Pending the solution, the two countries have agreed to maintain peace and tranquility on the borders. "I have received these assurances from China at the highest level," said Singh.

On the Sino-US joint statement issued after Obama-Hu summit in Beijing, the Prime Minister was dismissive. "What happens between President Obama and President Hu is not our direct concern," he said. 

Singh also sought to downplay China's economic growth. "No doubt Chinese growth performance is superior to India's growth performance. But I always believe that there are other values which are important than the growth of GDP -- respect for fundamental human rights, respect for rule of law, respect for multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious rights," he said. 

"There are several dimensions to human freedom which are not always caught by the numbers with regard to the GDP. So I do believe that even though Indian performance with regard to GDP might not be as good as the Chinese, certainly I would not like to choose the Chinese path. I would like to stick to Indian path," Singh said explaining why Indian model of economic reform was preferable. 

The Prime Minister said India might seem to be indecisive at times, but "once democracy decides on the basis of wide-ranging consensus, any reforms that are undertaken will be far more durable, far more effective than the reforms introduced by the writ of ruling group in a non-democratic set-up." 

At the same time, the Prime Minister said world should be prepare for "peaceful rise of China as a major power" and "so engagement is the right strategy both for India as well as the US."

Citing continued threat posed by terrorism emanating from Afghanistan,  Singh asked the world community to stay engaged there and not to think about "pre-mature exit" as it could embolden terrorists.  

Singh said India and the US needed to do more in cooperation in counter-terrorism.  "One thing that I would like to say is that we greatly welcome and support the commitment and involvement of the world community to promote peace and stability in progress in Afghanistan," Singh said at the US India Business Council in response to a question.  

"I sincerely hope that the world community will have the wisdom to stay engaged in that process and premature talk of exit would only embolden the terrorist elements who are out to destabilize not only our part of the world but the civilized world everywhere," he added.  

The Prime Minister was responding to a question by former US Defence Secretary William Cohen who wanted to know what more "natural allies" and "strategic partners" India and the US could do together for security and stability in South Asia. 

Cohen, while noting that the US recognises India's vital contribution to security and stability in South Asia, underlined the importance of sharing intelligence which was critical in dealing with the security of both India and the US.  

Responding, Singh said India and the United States enjoy "excellent cooperation with regard to sharing of intelligence and sharing of information relating to terrorist activity" but more needed to be done.  

"We cannot be satisfied with the status quo and in the course of two days that I am here I will explore with the US government what more can be done by our two countries working together," he said.  

Cohen, Defence Secretary in the Clinton Administration, also appreciated Singh for his "courage" to ensure that Civil Nuclear deal was passed by Parliament and it became reality.  

"I would like to say on behalf of the United States without your courage and your willingness to put your government on the line it never would have happened," he said. PTI

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