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China seeks to 'advance' boundary negotiations with India

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, March 4, IRNA -- China on Friday proposed to 'advance' the negotiation process with India on resolving the boundary issue in view of the prevailing 'good atmosphere', even as it played down any impact of a sharp hike in its defence budget on bilateral ties saying it poses no threat to any country.

The Special Representative mechanism created by both the countries to resolve the boundary issue has brought about 'some momentum' to bilateral efforts to resolve the problem, Li Zhaoxing, spokesman for the annual session of China's national legislature, told the media in Beijing, pti reported.

'We seek to advance the negotiation process on the settlement framework so as to resolve this boundary question which has been created and left by history as soon as possible,' Li, a former Foreign Minister, said replying to a question on concerns in India and other neighbours about China raising its defence budget.

He is currently the spokesman for the National People's Congress (NPC), which begins its annual session from tomorrow to consider the draft of the new defence budget as well as the 12th five-year plan.

'At represent there are friendly and stable relations between China and India. This has created a good atmosphere for the two sides to resolve the boundary question through consultations,' he said.

Announcing a sharp increase in China's defence budget from the previous USD 77 to USD 91.5 billion, which is due to be approved by NPC, Li defended the hike saying that India too increased its defence expenditure, which in the GDP terms was more than that of China's.

'It is true that China's defence budget is raised a bit, but the ratio of the defence spending in the country's GDP remains very low, much lower than those of many other countries,' he told a press conference for the annual parliamentary session.

While China's military spending amounts to about 1.4 per cent of its GDP, 'that ratio in India is much higher than two per cent as far as I know,' he said in response to a question on whether China's defence budget increase would put pressure on India and other neighbours.

He said China's defence policy is defensive in character and 'every bit of China's limited military strength will be used for safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and this will not pose a threat to any country.'

People of China and India have a 'proud historical and cultural traditions... No force can sow divisions between the people of China and India and the trend of friendship between Chinese and Indian people is an irresistible trend of history,' Li said.

Both countries have reached a consensus on maintaining peace and tranquillity at their borders before the dispute is eventually settled, he said, adding that Beijing is ready to work with its 'friendly neighbour' to implement relevant agreements to maintain a stable situation in border areas, which is conducive to the interests of both the countries.

The Special Representatives held 14 rounds of talks to resolve the dispute over 3500 km boundary.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh is part of Southern Tibet besides staking its claim on Aksai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir.

Li said that in recent years China has enhanced its friendly relations with Asian neighbours, including India.

There have been more frequent high-level exchanges, deeper mutual political trust, more integration of economic interests and further expansion of people-to-people and cultural exchanges, he said.

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