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China defends its expansionist polices on Panchsheel anniversary

30 June 2014

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday tried to defend China's expansionist economic and military policies, making a mockery of the 60th celebration of the Panchsheel treaty - the five principles of peaceful coexistence adopted by China, India and Myanmar in 1954.

In a speech about the principles, President Xi outlined China's basic framework for foreign policy. Much of his speech stressed China's peaceful nature and focused on the concept of non-interference in the affairs of other countries. Xi also declared that "no infringement upon the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a country is allowed".

India, China and Myanmar are bound by age-old linkages and geography, he added.

This was in contrast to India raising "all issues of concern", including Chinese military intrusions across the border and Chinese plans to build rail lines on part of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir during a high-level discussions with Chinese premier Li Keqiang on Saturday.

Commentators say China's foreign policy of late has been anything but aimed at peaceful coexistence. China has engaged in volatile confrontations with several neighbours over claims in the South China Sea.

China installed an oil rig in disputed waters last month and its navy remains in a stand-off with the Philippines over a region called the Scarborough Shoal. And China's relations with Japan have been tense since China last year declared an air defence identification zone over disputed islands.

Without naming the US, Xi made pointed remarks on the doomed policies of any country seeking to impose its will on others.

"In our respective bilateral relations, our common interests far outweigh our differences," visiting Indian vice president Hamid Ansari said while addressing a commemorative meeting of the 60th anniversary of the five principles in which Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Myanmar counterpart Thien Sein also took part.

Speaking after the discussions, foreign secretary Sujata Singh said India expressed concern about Chinese companies planning a railway line through the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir to link China with Pakistan as also Chinese intrusions into the Indian border.

Indian officials raised the issue of a new Chinese map showing Arunachal Pradesh a part of China. "A cartographic description cannot change the facts on the ground. Our opposition to the areas shown in the map will always be there," she said.

Singh said the Chinese raised their concerns about India but refused to go into details. "I don't want to go into issues of detail. This was a privileged discussion," she said.

Both sides emphasised the importance of maintaining peace and tranquility on the border, the foreign secretary said.

Indian ambassador Ashok Kantha said New Delhi is encouraging China, which is strong in manufacturing, to establish production units in India. "Encouraging Chinese manufacturing is part of our strategy to address the problem of trade deficit."

"Premier Li suggested India should identify products that would be of interest to Chinese buyers in order to resolve the problem of trade deficit between the two countries," Singh said.

Ansari, who is on a five-day visit to China, said India and China have to narrow down differences and build on convergences by exploiting the potential of Panchsheel.

The principles - mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in one another's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence once helped China to establish stable relations with India and Myanmar, then known as Burma.

China has chosen to highlight the five principles precisely because of the disputes with its neighbours.

"For the disputes in the South China Sea, the problem is not with China. It's with the other countries," Xi said.

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