Beijing: Ahead of this week’s annual Defence Dialogue, China has expressed its readiness to work with India to link its ambitious Maritime Silk Road plans with India’s ‘Mausam’ project in a bid to address New Delhi’s strategic concerns and derive “common benefits”.
Defence Secretary RK Mathur will lead the Indian defence delegation at the talks due to be held on April 8-9 during which the two countries would discuss a wide range of measures to step up cooperation between army, navy and air force of the two countries.
Significantly, ahead of the key meeting Chinese Foreign Ministry said China looks forward to stepping up interaction with India to identify the meeting point for their strategic interests in South Asia, especially the Indian Ocean region. “China is ready to work with South Asian countries, including India, Sri Lanka, to strengthen policy communication, identify the meeting point of their development strategies, explore effective ways of mutually beneficial cooperation and common benefit of the region, countries and the people,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
She was responding to a question on China’s Ambassador to India Le Yucheng’s recent comments to media that China wants to have communication with India to link the ‘Belt and Road’ initiatives with New Delhi’s ‘Spice Route’ and ‘Mausam’ projects.
During 2014’s Defence Dialogue, the two sides discussed prospects of joint naval exercises in addition to the ‘Hand in Hand’ exercises being held annually between the two armies to promote military-to-military relations.
In March, a high-level Air Force delegation from India came in China for the first high-level interaction. According to officials, the Defence Dialogue covers talks on mutual perspectives on South Asia, the China-India relationship, bilateral military ties and issues relating to the borders.
The calls for policy coordination followed Chinese President Xi Jinping formally launching the multi-billion dollar Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road (MSR) projects.
The projects are also called the ‘Belt and Road’ initiatives and China has devoted a USD 40 billion-fund besides finance facility from its Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) being launched with US dollar 50 billion capital later this year for them.
India has joined the AIIB as a founding member. Xi also mooted India-China-Sri Lanka trilateral cooperation during his talks with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.
The ‘Belt and Road’ projects aim at increasing China’s influence in the region besides reviving its slowing economy. The projects also plan to connect China with Europe and Africa by road, rail and sea.