China, India should avoid 'geopolitical trap' created by West, says outgoing envoy
Published: Oct 27, 2022 12:27 AM
China India Photo:CFP

China India Photo:CFP

Describing his tenure in India of more than three years as "unforgettable," Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong said in his farewell remarks that China and India should break out of the "geopolitics trap," warning that if the Western theory of geopolitics is applied to the China-India relationship, then major neighboring countries like China and India will inevitably view each other as threats and rivals.

Instead, Sun maintained in the farewell remarks which were issued on the website of the Chinese Embassy in India on Tuesday evening, that geographical proximity should be "an opportunity for us to have more interaction and cooperation, tap our potential and learn from and complement each other." 

Sun wrote in the remarks that "there is enough room in the world for China and India to develop together, and the two countries and peoples should have enough wisdom to find a way to live in peace and achieve win-win cooperation."

As a veteran Chinese diplomat who has dedicated decades to promoting China-India bilateral ties and was also the witness of downturns in ties in the past two years, Sun hopes that China and India - the only two countries in the world with a population exceeding 1 billion - can develop ties rather than focusing on differences, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Also, Sun's words could serve as a message for some elites in India that India's tradition of autonomy in making its own foreign policy is most in line with India's national interests and the benefits of the Indian people. Moves to get closer to the US and distance itself from China would lead India deeper into the geopolitical trap set up by the US-led West, Qian said.

That would complicate the prospect of normalizing and improving China-India ties and prolong the process, Qian warned. 

Sun wrote in an emotional tweet on Saturday that he wanted to "bid farewell to our Indian friends," thanking them for contributing to China-India friendship. Indian net users left positive notes such as "Good luck for your future, Ambassador … we hope India and China will resolve all their disputes peacefully," and "Let's make this an Asian Century, one that brings prosperity to the entire World..."

Indian media outlets such as the Hindustan Times have run lengthy pieces to cover the outgoing Chinese ambassador's farewell remarks.

However, The Hindustan Times also pointed out that the remarks by Sun were in "marked contrast to the stand adopted by the Indian government," citing Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, who said bilateral ties are passing through one of the most challenging phases and that the overall relationship cannot be normalized till there is peace and tranquility along the border.

Without mentioning the border standoff, Sun listed reasons to wish for normalized and improved ties, Chinese observers said.

"China and India have established dialogue mechanisms at various levels. The Chinese side optimized the visa application process for Indian citizens to travel to China, and resumed processing of visa applications for students pursuing long-term studies, and people conducting business, work and family visits. Up to now, more than 1,800 visas have been issued to Indian students, and we hope there will be more and more exchange of visits between our two peoples," Sun wrote in the remarks. 

Last year, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bilateral trade volume exceeded $120 billion, which fully demonstrates the strong complementarity of the Chinese and Indian economies, Sun said when he talked with the India media in August 2022. 

"We should also turn our broad consensus on multilateral affairs into concrete actions, and enhance communication in the framework of the United Nations, G20, BRICS, SCO and other multilateral institutions. We should strengthen coordination in poverty reduction, disaster prevention, energy security, climate change and other major issues, and make contributions to addressing global challenges," Sun continued. 

On September 29, Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, a spokesperson for China's Ministry of National Defense, revealed at a regular press conference that in line with the consensus reached in the 16th Round of the China-India Corps Commander Level Meeting, the front-line troops of the two militaries in the area of Jianan Daban recently staged disengagement simultaneously in a planned manner, and the disengagement of Chinese and Indian troops in the area of Jianan Daban is conducive to promoting peace and tranquility in the border areas.

"This is a result achieved by the two sides in resolving relevant border issues through diplomatic and military consultations and negotiations at all levels, which is conducive to promoting peace and tranquility in the border area," said the spokesperson.

The spokesperson also expressed that China hopes both sides will continue to work together in the same direction, strictly abide by the agreements and consensus reached between the two countries, maintain communication and dialogue, effectively manage differences, and jointly safeguard the security and stability in border areas.