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India wants level playing field for its companies in China

Sandeep Dikshit

Chinese official holds talks with Manmohan Singh, S.M. Krishna

— PHOTO: PTI/ Shahbaz Khan

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Zhou Yong Kang, Member, Standing Committee of the Politburo, Communist Party of China, during a meeting in New Delhi on Monday.

NEW DELHI: China said on Monday that it saw India's development not as a threat but as an opportunity and India should take a similar view of Beijing's economic growth.

India hoped that China would provide a level playing field to its companies, particularly in sectors where they were facing hurdles, restricting their access to the market in that country. The views of the two countries were expressed by Standing Committee Member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China Zhou Yong Kang and External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna at a seminar on India-China relations.

Mr. Zhou later held talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Mr. Krishna. Mr. Zhou told Dr. Singh that development was the sole core interest of China, to which the Prime Minister said that Kashmir was also among India's core interests and wanted Beijing to respect New Delhi's sensitivities on this score, said sources.

At the seminar, jointly organised by the Congress party and the Communist Party of China, Mr. Krishna said, “we hope China will provide a level playing field, especially in the pharmaceutical and the IT sectors, where we face barriers which restrict market access.'' He noted that China was India's largest trading partner and felt that apart from deepening economic ties, cooperation could also be explored in science and technology.

Hoping that the hotline between the two Prime Ministers would become operational soon, Mr. Krishna wanted to know if the two countries were making the best use of opportunities to forge closer ties and if they could not be more sensitive to each other's concerns.

Mr. Zhou outlined five areas for further development of Sino-Indian relations in order to consolidate their strategic cooperative partnership. Foremost was promoting political trust by maintaining high-level visits between governments, parties, parliaments and militaries. The second was greater cooperation in trade and economy that should include reducing protectionism. The third area was greater people-to-people exchanges in a wide swathe of areas.

The Chinese leader's other two suggestions pertained to strengthening international cooperation and “friendly consultations'' on controversial issues and disagreements in exchanges.

Mr. Zhou is the highest-ranked Chinese leader to visit India this year so far and the visit afforded an opportunity for both the countries to have a “free and frank exchange of views on a broad range of issues before the arrival of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao,'' according to National Security Adviser Shiv Shankar Menon.

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