Kathmandu: As some nations along with Pakistan pushing for China's active membership at South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), India on Tuesday rejected the demand saying that there was "no great support" for new membership.
Speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the 18th summit of the SAARC in Kathmandu, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Akbaruddin said there was no discussion or debate on the issue and stressed on the "deepening of understanding among the SAARC countries then going horizontally."
India's reaction comes after some countries made a policy statement on strengthening of roles of SAARC observers amid China's push to elevate its role in SAARC from an observer to that of an active member.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not welcomed Beijing`s renewed suggestion its status be raised from "observer" in the SAARC, in which India is presently the only major power.
Modi`s hope of using the group as a counterweight to China is unlikely to gain traction at the two-day Kathmandu meeting, with officials saying Pakistan is blocking deals to increase transport and energy connections.
Pakistan mooted the idea of upgrading China`s and South Korea`s status in the organisation at a meeting of SAARC foreign ministers on Tuesday. It was quickly rebuffed by India.
China on Monday said it wants to "elevate its partnership" with the South Asian bloc amid a debate in the official media here on enhancing China's role in the eight member grouping from an observer to that of an active member.
"We value the role played by SAARC and stand ready to elevate our partnership with it so that together we can play a greater role and contribute constructively to the region", Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying told a media briefing in Beijing.
“Cooperation between China and Saarc in all fields is on an increase,” Hua said.
“Going forward, the Chinese side will continue to carry out friendly exchanges and practical cooperation with SAARC in the spirit of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation, and play a constructive role in promoting regional peace, stability and prosperity.”
SAARC is comprised of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Currently, Australia, China, the European Union, Iran, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mauritius, Myanmar and the US are observers to SAARC.
As it expanded its influence in the South Asian region firming up ties with countries in the region specially Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives with billions of dollars worth of aid and project assistance, China was vocal about upgrading its status as a member.