Bali (Indonesia): Against the backdrop of
irritation in ties over South China Sea issue, Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh on Friday told his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao
that India`s oil exploration in the disputed maritime area is
"purely commercial activity" even as the two sides agreed that
there was enough space and areas for them to work together.
A range of issues, including the situation along the Line
of Actual Control and trade was discussed during the 55-minute
meeting with Singh saying India was committed to developing
the "best of relations" with China while the latter underlined
that the two countries should work "hand-in-hand" to ensure
that the 21st century belongs to Asia.
"This matter did come up in the context of East Asia
Summit (taking place here tomorrow)," Secretary (East) in the
External Affairs Ministry Sanjay Singh told reporters when
asked whether the issue of Chinese objections to India`s
exploration of oil in South China Sea figured in the talks
between Singh and Wen.
The Prime Minister "observed that exploration of oil and
gas in South China Sea by India is purely commercial
activity", the Secretary said about the issue that has caused
irritation in the ties between the two countries in the recent
China, which lays claim over entire South China Sea, had
openly attacked India in September over its move to explore
oil in the maritime area on offer from Vietnam. It had evoked
a sharp retort from India.
This was coupled with an incident in which an Indian
Naval ship INS Airavat was threatened by the Chinese Navy
while moving in that area.
In the context of China`s claim over the entire South
China Sea, Singh told Wen that "the issue of sovereignty
should be resolved according to international law and
India asserts that since it was not clearly defined that
the maritime area belongs wholly to China, the laws of the sea
As the meeting began, Singh told Wen that "we are
neighbours and also large growing economies of Asia. We should
cooperate bilaterally and globally."
To press this point, Singh noted that whenever India and
China had worked together on climate change, it has had a
"positive impact" on the global stage.
Visualising "cooperative partnership" with China, Singh
reminded Wen that he had said that "there is enough space in
the world for both India and China to grow."
Adding on this point, Wen, who was meeting Singh here on
the sidelines of the ASEAN and East Asia Summits, said: "there
are enough areas in our world where India and China can
Recalling Wen`s visit to India in December last year,
Singh said it was a "milestone" in the bilateral relations
during which the two sides discussed "new ideas and new
approaches" to the relationship.
Referring to the oft-repeated contention that the 21st
century should belong to Asia, the Chinese Premier said that
for realisation of this goal, it is important for the two most
populous countries of the world to "work hand-in-hand to forge
ahead along the path of development. I have full confidence
that the day of that kind of the world will arrive".
Singh, while noting that the two leaders had been meeting
on the sidelines of all the ASEAN Summits held during the last
six years, told Wen that he had "benefitted enormously" from
his conversations with the Chinese leader on each occasion.
Earlier, expressing great pleasure in meeting Singh
again, Wen said their decision to meet here to exchange views
on major issues of mutual interest "shows how much importance
leaders of both India and China attach to friendly relations
After the meeting, Manmohan Singh said, "We had a very
good meeting. I always enjoy my meetings with Premier Wen
Jiabao. We agreed that both India and China must work hard to
make our relationship stronger, wider and deeper."
The Secretary (East) Sanjay Singh said the meeting
between the two Prime Ministers was "good".
Both sides expressed satisfaction that the
"relationship based on mutual respect and equality was on a
firm footing and that was in the interest of both the
countries", Sanjay Singh said.
He said both leaders noted with satisfaction that the
boundary was peaceful and referred to the decision to set up
a joint mechanism for border management.
Wen also welcomed New Delhi`s interest to enhance
cooperation with Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), a
regional grouping in which India has an observer status.
As neighbours and two most populous developing
countries, China and India`s peaceful coexistence and common
development are in the common interests of both sides, and are
of great importance to Asia and the world as a whole, Chinese
premier Wen said.
Wen called on both countries to create more favourable
conditions for free movement of goods, technology, capital and
services, to encourage two-way investment and cooperation in
projects contracting, so as to make more benefits for
companies and peoples of the two countries.
China will join hands with India to pursue the path of
friendship, mutual trust and cooperation, and push for new
achievements in bilateral relations, Wen was quoted as saying.