Chinese Ambassador to India H.E. Sun Weidong Gave Interview to CNBC-TV18

On August 28th, 2020, Chinese Ambassador to India H.E. Sun Weidong gave interview to CNBC-TV18 on China-India relations, China’s position on boundary question, bilateral economic and trade cooperation, China’s economy and China-US relations. The main content of the interview is as follows:

Q:India-China relations are at a turning point. What do you feel about the reset that is underway and what will be the impact on the future of the partnership?

A: You are correct that you mentioned the partnership between China and India. That is exactly the basic orientation of our bilateral relations. China’s basic judgment on China-India relations remains unchanged. China and India are partners rather than rivals to each other, and opportunities rather than threats. This is an important consensus reached by the leaders of our two countries and should be earnestly implemented. It would be a miscalculation to treat a close neighbor for thousands of years as “enemy” or “threat” only by one issue or one incident. We should respect and support each other, avoid suspicion and misunderstanding, and enhance political mutual trust.

Another important consensus agreed by our two leaders is to properly handle differences and not allow them to become disputes. We should put the boundary question at an appropriate place in our bilateral relations and not allow differences to disturb the relationship. Any action that enlarges and complicates the contradiction will not help solve the problem. In fact, dialogue and negotiation is the only right way out.

The basic fact of China and India as the two largest neighboring developing countries remain unchanged. The orientation of China and India as partners remains unchanged. The general landscape that China and India are inter-dependent for common development remains unchanged. I don’t think there’s a “reset” in China-India relations. Our relationship should move forward, rather than backward or reverse. China and India should avoid mutual attrition, nor be opposed to each other. Instead, we should meet halfway to bring our relationship back on the right track at an early date.

Q:Since the 15th June clash, India and China have been talking at military and diplomatic levels to resolve tensions. According to Indian officials, disengagement has been stalled due to Chinese troop deployment at Pangong Tso and Gogra Post. Indian officials feel that disengagement may stretch to winter and beyond. Will Chinese troops restore status quo as existed before 5th of May?

A: The Galwan incident is an unfortunate one and its merits is very clear. The bilateral channels of communications between China and India are open and smooth after the incident. The dialogue and negotiations have been undergoing all the time. The Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Mr. Wang Yi had telephone conversations with External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar, and National Security Advisor and India’s Special Representative Mr. Doval respectively. We have held five rounds of Corps Commanders meetings and four rounds of meetings of Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on China-India Border Affairs(WMCC). The troops on the ground have maintained communication. We had met every week on average since June 15, and both sides take it very seriously to address the issue.

I think we have important consensus, that is to push forward disengagement and deescalation through dialogue and negotiations and maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas. The existing situation on the ground is under control on the whole and there is no fresh standoff between the two forces. Of course, negotiations are in process that takes time. We should keep the momentum of dialogue and negotiation, further de-escalate the border situation, properly handle the remaining issues, and jointly maintain the peace and tranquility along the border areas.

China always stands for peaceful settlement of boundary disputes through dialogue and negotiation. Meanwhile, it is the legitimate right of every country to safeguard its own sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is not the same thing as expansionism. China should not be labeled as “expansionist”. Both China and India are victims of imperialism and colonialism. We should work together to oppose hegemonism, power politics and expansionism.

Q:Can India and China work on early resolution of the boundary question? There have been several rounds of boundary talks over the years. Do you think it would be possible for the two sides to carry out delineation, demarcation and delimitation of the boundary once and for all. Is China considering any such move?

A: An early resolution of boundary question is the sooner, the better. However, the boundary question is left over from history, which is very complicated and sensitive. It need patience to resolve. We should seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through equal consultation and peaceful negotiation.

Since the mechanism of the Special Representatives on the Boundary Question was established in 2003, we have worked out a “three-step” road map that is initially defining political parameters and guiding principles, followed by negotiating a framework agreement and finally completing border demarcation. In 2005, the first step was accomplished when both sides agreed to make meaningful and mutually acceptable adjustments, so as to arrive at a package settlement to the boundary question. During the informal summit last year in Chennai, our two leaders welcomed the work of the Special Representatives and urged them to continue their efforts to arrive at a mutually-agreed framework.

China has a sincere political will to resolve the boundary question. We have been committed to actively advancing border talks, formulating road map for framework discussions, and pushing forward consultation on “early harvest”. We hope the Indian side would equally show political will and move forward towards the settlement of boundary question.

Q:Has there been any contact between PM Modi and President Xi since the border clash. Is a phone conversation or meeting likely in the coming months? Could there be a Mahabalipuram or Wuhan type of summit to guide relations after the recent tensions?

A: The leaders play an essential and irreplaceable role in guiding our relationship. In recent years, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi have met many times, which showcase the significance they attach to our bilateral relations. In particular, during the two informal summits in Wuhan and Chennai, our two leaders held in-depth and candid communication on overarching, long-term and strategic issues of global and regional importance, which provided the fundamental guidance and direction for the development of bilateral ties.

The current difficulties we are facing in our bilateral relations have even highlighted the importance of transmitting and implementing the leaders’ consensus. We can not get cold feet or even back pedaling in face of temporary difficulties. More efforts need to be taken at working level to transmit and implement the leaders’ consensus and translate it into action in order to bring our ties back on track.

Q:India has taken a decision on holding 5G trials without Chinese companies. What would be your reaction?

A: I wonder if you have official confirmation on this. What I learn is that last year the Department of Telecommunications (DOT) of India invited enterprises from various countries including Huawei to participate in 5G trials.

As a private enterprise, Huawei has achieved a leading position in 5G technology. However, a certain country resorts to suppress a Chinese private company. It attempts to hinder normal market cooperation and scientific and technological development under the pretext of “national security” even without any factual basis and concrete evidence. Such kind of hegemonic actions violate the rules of the market and the principle of fair competition, and it will eventually damage its own interests and credibility.

Huawei has been operating in India for 20 years. It has created a number of local jobs, promoted sufficient competition in India’s telecommunications market, and provided high-quality and low-cost products and services to Indian telecom operators and consumers. Huawei has never had any security issue in its operations in India. Furthermore, Huawei is ready to enter into a “no-back-door” agreement with India. We hope India can make an independent, fair and right judgment in this regard and provide an open, fair, transparent and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises to invest and operate in India.

Q:According to the Indian government there cannot be business as usual till the LAC standoff is resolved. Indian government recently banned 50 Chinese apps and is considering stopping Chinese participation in infrastructure projects. There are plans to reduce imports from China. What do you feel about the larger economic decoupling that is underway?

A: We believe it is unreasonable to link boundary question with normal bilateral cooperation. I have noted there are emerging rational voices in India pointing out that such restrictive practices are both unrealistic and harmful to India’s interests, and may eventually lead to a lose-lose situation.

China-India economic and trade cooperation is mutually beneficial with win-win results. China’s investment in India has contributed to India’s economic development and created a large number of local jobs. In the era of globalization, countries in the world, including China and India, are interdependent and integrated with each other, forming a pattern “where everyone has a stake”. I think the two major economies of China and India should attract each other like magnets, rather than forcefully be separated or even “decoupled” from each other.

Suppression, self-seclusion and restrictions are not good for development. Only by being open, fair and transparent can we better integrate into global cooperation. Though the discriminatory restrictions do hurt Chinese companies, but the Indian consumers and employees suffer too. It does no good to either of us. We hope that India will change its relevant practice and treat every enterprise and service provider from various countries equally, so as to create an open, fair and equitable business environment for all.

Q:China’s economy grew by 3.2 percent in April-June quarter, this was driven by a recovery from COVID-19 and investments in infrastructure. What does this mean to China and the world? Tell us about China’s next steps in economic recovery at a time when global demand is depressed?

A: China is the first major economy to return to growth since the pandemic. Our economy shows strong resilience and great potential. In July, industrial added value above designated size was up by 4.8% year-on-year, with positive growth for 4 consecutive months; exports of goods rose by 10.4%. Online sales, education and medical services have developed rapidly. From January to July, online retail sales increased by 15.7%.

China's economy, like a strong engine, has made important contributions to the stability of global industrial supply chains, injecting confidence and momentum into the recovery of world economy. I noticed that the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India recently released monthly trade data, which showed from this April to July, India’s overall exports declined due to COVID-19. However, India’s exports to China increased by nearly 31 percent, the share of exports to China in its total exports climbed to 9.71 percent, which almost doubled. This once again shows that an open and vigorous China means huge opportunities for India.

In the face of current international situation, China will take advantage of its huge domestic market, form a new development pattern centered on "internal circulation", and speed up a "dual circulation" growth model in which domestic and foreign markets can boost each other. This new pattern is by no means a closed but an open circulation. We will create new growth momentum through scientific and technological innovation, spur new vitality by deepening reform, and foster new advantages of international cooperation and competition with high-level opening up.

China will be more closely linked with the world economy, and attract more international commodities and resources. According to a report issued by the World Bank last month, China’s business environment ranking leaped from the 78th in 2018 to the 31st in 2020. The Ministry of Commerce of China recently conducted a survey, which shows more than 99% of foreign enterprises will continue to operate in China. China will continue to promote and lead economic globalization, provide more market opportunities, investment opportunities and growth opportunities, help the world economy step out of recession at an early date and achieve a stable recovery.

Q:US has targeted China for aggression in South China Sea and at the Indian border. How hopeful is China about reducing trade and strategic tensions with the USA?

A: Recently, some politicians in the US have kept making groundless remarks against China, tried to misguide international public opinion, and chosen unilaterally to be provocative. This is clear to the international community. In response, the Chinese Government has expounded its position comprehensively and reacted resolutely to firmly defend China’s sovereignty, security and development interests and safeguard and stabilize China-US relations. We are always ready to develop a China-US relationship featuring no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation based on coordination, cooperation and stability. We hope the US will meet China halfway, abandon its Cold War mentality and zero-sum game approach, and bring China-US relations back to the track of sound and steady development.

Mutually beneficial cooperation over the years have turned China and the US into a community with shared interests. Over 70,000 American businesses have made investment in China with a total sales volume of US$700 billion. Among them, 97% are making a profit. Even with the trade friction and COVID-19, the vast majority of American companies in China still want to stay and are doubling down on investment in China. We hope the US stop suppressing and bullying Chinese companies and return to the right track of openness and cooperation.

On the South China Sea, China never expanded sovereign claims, and has been committed to negotiation and consultation to settle the territorial and maritime disputes with neighboring countries based on international law and the respect for historical facts. Whether it is the South China Sea issue or China-India boundary question, we have been committed to settling disputes through dialogue and keeping the region peaceful and stable. We don’t accept countries outside the region pointing fingers and making instigation.

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