Govt seeks to clear air on Pranab reference to China

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New Delhi, Nov 8 (UNI) Seeking to clear the 'misunderstanding' purportedly created by the speech of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the government has denied that the Minister reportedly referred to China as a 'threat' and blamed ''certain elements in media'' for ''misinterpretation'' and ''negative gloss'' put on his address.

''At no point in his speech did the Minister use the word 'threat' to describe China. There is thus no cause for misinterpretation and the kind of negative gloss that has been put on the speech by certain elements in the media,'' a spokesman of the External Affairs Ministry said.

The spokesman said the media reports convey a ''misleading impression'' of what the External Affairs Minister said about China in his speech to the National Defence College on November 3.

Mr Mukherjee said in his address the rise of China was the ''foremost'' and ''immediate challenge'' that India had to cope with.

The spokesman said it was clear that, in his speech, the Minister recognised there was enhanced engagement with China and as a result of the engagement, the two countries had a completely different situation.

Economic development had given both countries new capabilities and there was sufficient space for both India and China to grow together and build a cooperative relationship in the new architecture, the spokesman said, while quoting the External Affairs Minister.

''What are the immediate challenges that we face. To my mind, the foremost among these would be (a) to cope with the rise of China (b) maintenance of a peaceful periphery and (c) managing our relations with the major powers,'' the Minister had said.

The Minister had further said, ''China as India's largest neighbour and as an emerging power, is both a challenge and a priority...We are today faced with a new China. Today's China seeks to further her interests more aggressively than in the past, thanks to the phenomenal increase of her capacities after thirty years of reforms.'' ''There are also new set of challenges which China poses such as the strategic challenge as China develops its capabilities in outer space, the geo-political challenge as it reaches out to various parts of the globe in search of raw materials and resources. We would need to develop more sophisticated ways of dealing with these new challenges posed by China,'' the Minister had said while referring to China.

UNI RB SW RAI1746

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