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The following is a partial, rush transcript of the part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s press conference in Hua Hin, Thailand on Sunday dealing with India-China relations. The transcript was prepared by The Hindu’s correspondent, Siddharth Varadarajan.
‘Going to the media accentuates India, China differences’
The following is a partial, rush transcript of the part of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s press conference in Hua Hin, Thailand on Sunday dealing with India-China relations. The transcript was prepared by our correspondent, Siddharth Varadarajan.
Q: Did you raise the issue of Chinese incursions with Premier Wen?
Manmohan Singh: I had a frank and constructive exchange of views with Premier Wen, both during our formal meetings and during the gala dinner last night. We discussed all these issues and agreed that existing mechanisms for bilateral cooperation should be used to resolve all issues amicably in the spirit of the SCP. As you know, the Chinese foreign minister will be visiting India and the two foreign ministers will have an opportunity to discuss all issues which have bearing on our relationship.
The Premier and I reaffirmed the need to maintain peace and tranquility on the border pending a resolution of the boundary question. Both of us agreed that we should continue and strengthen efforts to build political trust and understanding.
Question: Will the Dalai Lama’s proposed visit to Arunachal Pradesh complicate India-China relations and make resolution of the boundary issue more difficult?
Manmohan Singh: Well, all I can say is that I explained to Premier Wen that the Dalai Lama is our honoured guest, he is a religious leader. We do not allow the Tibetan refugees to indulge in political activities, and that as proof of that, last year, we took resolute action at the time of Olympics when there were reports that some Tibetan refugees might disrupt the process. And that’s the position that I explained to Premier Wen.
Question: At the banquet last night?
Manmohan Singh: Yes.
Question: Were the Chinese convinced of your explanation on the Dalai Lama? is there any change in his plans to travel to Arunachal Pradesh?
Manmohan Singh: I am not aware of the plans of the Dalai Lama. I have explained this position to the Chinese leadership. We have also agreed that whatever outstanding issues there may be between us — and there is the complex boundary question which cannot be wished away — there are established government channels to exchange views on all these issues and one doesn’t have to, therefore, go to the media to accentuate or exaggerate the amount of differences that prevail. We both agreed that the boundary question is a complex question, that pending resolution of the boundary question we both have an obligation to maintain peace and tranquility along the border.
Question: I am from Assam and there is a lot of concern about Chinese river projects. Did you raise this issue with Premier Wen?
Manmohan Singh: Well, I did raise this issue of Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday. I conveyed to him that cooperation in the areas of transborder rivers is of mutual benefit. Premier Wen said that keeping in mind the overall friendly relations and humanitarian aspects, the Chinese side has been providing hydrological data during the flood season. He said the relevant discussions on transborder river issues could be held through the Expert Level Mechanism that we have constituted.
Question: The Chinese have started issuing different visas for Kashmiris. Did you raise this issue?
Manmohan Singh: There was a general discussion on all bilateral issues. I did not specifically raise this issue because I thought that the position is quite clear as far as we are concerned, whether it is Arunachal Pradesh or Jammu and Kashmir, they are integral parts of our country. I didn’t raise this and it was not raised on their side.
Question: India has objected to China building infrastructure in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir. Did this matter come up?
Manmohan Singh: I did not raise this specific issue but we both agreed that whatever issues are outstanding, they should be discussed two days later when the foreign ministers of our two countries are going to meet. As you know, the Chinese foreign minister will be coming [for the Russia-India-China trilateral]. So there will be opportunities for the two foreign ministers to discuss views on all outstanding issues.