Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has sought to recast his country’s relations with neighbor India in a more positive light, saying the two countries have great potential for cooperation. His comments, made on August 30, come ahead of a visit next week to China by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
China and India have also agreed this week to pull back on a months-long standoff regarding their disputed border. September 3 marks the start of a summit for BRICS -- a grouping of nations that also includes Brazil, Russia, and South Africa.
Ahead of the summit, Wang told a news briefing in the southeastern city of Xiamen that it is natural for the two giant neighbors to have certain differences.
"What's important is that we put these problems in the appropriate place and appropriately handle and control them in the spirit of mutual respect and based on the consensus of both countries' leaders," he said. "There is huge potential for cooperation between China and India."
The standoff in the Himalayan region started when India dispatched troops to stop China from building a road in the remote territory of Doklam, which is claimed by both China and Bhutan.
China says its forces will continue their patrol of Doklam (Donglang in Chinese), and Wang emphasized that he hopes India has “learned a lesson” from the incident.
China and India have deep connections both culturally and historically, but relations have been tumultuous since a brief border war in 1962.
Modi has refused to join the Belt and Road initiative, President Xi Jinping's signature project that aims to interconnect Asia and beyond. India was the only country to boycott a summit in Beijing in May.
As well as the ongoing border dispute, which includes areas near Pakistan, China and India have had disagreements.
India finds China’s close relationship with archrival Pakistan to be suspect, along with its growing military activity in and around the Indian Ocean such as its first overseas military base in Djibouti.
China is upset over India’s hosting of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who lives in India and is reviled by Beijing as a separatist. The Dalai Lama maintains he simply wants autonomy for Tibet.
In particular, Beijing bristled at a weeklong trip by the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, an eastern Himalayan region administered by New Delhi but claimed by China as "southern Tibet."
-- With reporting by Reuters