India will face more competition from China on energy: PM

June 12th, 2008 - 11:48 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 11 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh admitted Wednesday that India would face “increasing competition” from China in the area of energy security, while emphasising the need for a peaceful neighbourhood for the country’s growth and prosperity. “Now competition and cooperation have to be watchwords. We have to cooperate but have also to recognise that there will be increasing competition from China, from other countries also those who are entrenched, would not like to make way for others - the newcomers,” the prime minister said.

He was addressing the new batch of officers of the Indian Foreign Service at a function here. The prime minister outlined the broad contours of India’s foreign policy with special emphasis on the importance of India’s relations with its immediate neighbours.

“We need a peaceful neighbourhood. And that is why it is very important that our relations with our neighbours whether they are China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka - they are of critical importance in realising our national ambitions,” Manmohan Singh said.

He pointed out that energy security, which was required for India’s growth, was an important area and it could also lead to new tensions with other countries, particularly China, that was not only growing at a faster pace but had already placed itself in an advantageous position to tap energy sources in different parts of the world.

“So, therefore, tensions will be part of the evolving world systems and how we handle our problems, how we project our national interests, will be a crucial determinant of our capacity to be successful in the race for development,” the prime minister added.

Manmohan Singh put special emphasis on India’s evolving relations with China and how the successful management of it was crucial for both countries and the neighbourhood as well.

“With regard to China we have this whole problem of the border. We have in the last four years actively engaged through our special representatives to find pragmatic pathways to handle this complicated issue. Some progress is being made but I think there is a long arduous journey ahead of us,” the prime minister said.

He added: “In the meanwhile both the Chinese and our government have appreciated that we cannot allow the border dispute to affect the pace of cooperation in other areas and that is why our trade with China has grown at a handsome rate. There is a scope for further expansion of trade and cultural relations.”

With regard to the other countries in India’s “immediate neighbourhood”, Manmohan Singh said India had a “vested interest” in their stability and progress because if they fail to move forward and prosper, many of their problems could well become that of India’s.

“If Bangladesh suffers from global warming, I think a large number of people will willy-nilly migrate, legally or illegally, into our country. India and Nepal have a very porous border and if the Nepali system does not provide adequate opportunity to Nepali youths - willy-nilly there will be migration.

“In the same way, there is a conflict in Sri Lanka; tragic though it is, it has given a lot of worries because many times it happens that when ethnic tensions increase, there is a tendency of increased inflow of refugees in our country and this creates both domestic problems as well as foreign policy problems,” the prime minister said.

But Manmohan Singh acknowledged that India often had more knowledge about the western nations and other parts of the world than about its immediate neighbours.

“I would like our diplomats to develop an Indian perspective on what is happening in our neighbourhood and use it as an important analytical tool for, I think, telling us what are the meaningful foreign policy and domestic policy options before us in dealing with the neighbouring countries,” he said.

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