Dragon & Elephant can dance together

China’s foreign minister Wang Yi has said that friendship and good neighbourliness between India and China are far more important than “partial frictions” on the border. Speaking at a symposium on China’s diplomacy before leaving for New Delhi where he is attending the Russia-India-China meeting of foreign ministers, Wang said, “Both being big developing countries, China and India have far greater shared strategic interests than concrete differences, and far greater needs for cooperation than partial frictions.”

Wang specifically mentioned the 73-day border standoff at Doklam which ended last August. “China is also firm in upholding its sovereign rights and interests and territorial integrity. We handled Indian troops’ trespass into China’s Dong Lang area with restraint,” he said.

The Chinese minister met minister of external affairs Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on Monday ahead of the RIC meeting. Russia has refrained to be drawn into border and other disputes between India and China, which is one reason why Wang has adopted a conciliatory posture, observers said.

The border settlement reached last August was a sign that a lot could be achieved through diplomatic means, he said. “This demonstrates not only the value and emphasis we put on relations with India but also our sincerity and sense of responsibility in maintaining peace and stability,” he said.

At the same time, Wang made it clear that it was Beijing, which has been taking the initiative to resolve differences with India. Wang even tried to paint the picture of “the Dragon and Elephant Dancing Together”, which symbolically refers to China and India, if the two countries are able to overcome their border differences promptly.

“We believe as long as we continue to engage in in-depth strategic communication, there will be a prospect of ‘the Dragon and the Elephant Dancing Together’ and ‘1+1=11’ effect as expected,” he said.

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