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Chinese envoy moots India-China friendship treaty

Mumbai, Jan 10 (AZINS) The new Chinese Ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui on Tuesday suggested a bilateral Friendship and Cooperation treaty besides a Free Trade Agreement to improve ties between the two countries.

Terming these as ambitious proposals, he nevertheless felt that the time was ripe for the Asian giants to reap some "early harvest" benefits in resolving their vexed border issues.

Luo also urged the need for India and China to join hands in the latter's One Belt One Road (OBOR) strategy to build super-modern economic and infrastructural connectivities in South Asia.

"India's Act East policy would benefit if India joined the One Belt One Road' initiative of China," he remarked.

India has been non-committal to joining China's ambitious OBOR project.

In fact, New Delhi is opposed to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor -- a crucial part of OBOR which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which India claims as its own.

The Sino-India ties took a hit when Beijing blocked New Delhi's entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and rejected its plea at the UN to have Pakistani militant Masood Azhar declared as terrorist.

The South China Sea issue was also an irritant between the two who fought a brief war in 1962.

Luo was speaking at a function organised by the policy think-tank, Observer Research Foundation at the newly-established Ji Xianlin Centre for India-China Studies in University of Mumbai.

He added that beyond connectivity projects, the two nations should also cooperate to promote cultural exchanges, cooperation in education and people-to-people contacts under the OBOR framework.

Luo described the existing differences between India and China as "within a family", but expressed optimism over improving the relations in future.

ORF Chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni, a media aide to former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, said relations between India and China should be guided by their profound civilisational wisdom.

"India, China and Pakistan should forge a friendly relationship and resolve differences peacefully, which is critical for changing the destiny of South Asia, which could change the destiny of Asia and the world in the 21st century," Kulkarni urged.

Professor Ji Xianlin (1911-2009) was a renowned Sanskrit scholar and Chinese Indologist who translated the epic Ramayana into Mandarin.

University of Mumbai Vice-Chancellor Sanjay Deshmukh announced that the new centre would be upgraded as Ji Xianlin School for India-China Studies from the next academic year.

Luo handed over to Solapur Mayor Sushila Abute a carefully restored version of a rare calligraphic homage hand-written by China's founder Mao Zedong to Dwarakanath Kotnis.

Kotnis (1910-1942), an Indian medico from Solapur who studied at University of Mumbai, was sent by the Indian National Congress as part of a medical mission to help the Chinese and soldiers during the Japanese war.

He died in China while serving there and Luo described him as "a hero of India and a friend of China" and both countries would never forget his humanitarian services and sacrifices.

On his first official visit to Mumbai, Luo met Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, among other engagements.