Former President Pranab Mukherjee’s death ‘heavy loss’ to ties, says China – world news

Mukherjee had visited China in 2016 and in a series of meetings, had sought greater market access for Indian businesses.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee’s death is a “heavy loss” to Sino-India friendship, China said on Tuesday, expressing deep condolences at the passing of the veteran Indian politician.

“Former President Mukherjee was a veteran statesman of India. In his 50 years in politics, he made positive contributions to China-India relations,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at the regular ministry briefing on Tuesday responding to a question from the state-run media on Mukherjee’s death.

Referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India in 2014 and his meeting with Mukherjee, who was the 13th Indian President, she said after the meeting the two countries had issued a joint statement on building closer partnership.

“It is a heavy loss for China-India friendship and for India. We express deep condolences over his passing and extend sincere sympathies to the Indian government and his family,” she said.

Mukherjee had visited China in 2016 and in a series of meetings with the Chinese leadership and the business community had sought greater market access in the world’s most populous country for Indian businesses.

In a speech delivered in the southern trade and business hub of Guangzhou in Guangdong province, Mukherjee had said economic ties between the two countries had grown considerably from under $3 billion in 2000.

By 2015-16, the bilateral trade had crossed $70 billion, he had said.

“India believes there is great potential for economic and commercial cooperation among our two nations … the stability of our relationship in recent years provides an enabling basis for utilising these opportunities and coming together,” Mukherjee had said in an indirect reference to the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) between the two nations.

While alluding to China’s repeated decision to block India’s inclusion in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a grouping of 48 nations, Mukherjee had said New Delhi had always supported Beijing’s inclusion in international organisations.

India, he had said, believed that China’s presence must be there in multilateral organisations, as otherwise its huge population would be left unrepresented.

“The basic cardinal principle of India’s foreign policy is to recognise divergences … we have never indulged in expanding the divergences but reducing the divergences and expanding the areas of agreement,” Mukherjee had said.

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