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 used to be 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 steady 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 assembly with Mukherjee, who used to be the 13th Indian President, she said after the assembly the two countries had issued a joint observation on building closer partnership.
“This is a heavy loss for China-India friendship and for India. We express deep condolences over his passing and extend honest sympathies to the Indian government and his circle of relatives,” she said.
Mukherjee had visited China in 2016 and in a series of meetings with the Chinese leadership and the commerce community had sought greater market access on the planet’s most populous country for Indian businesses.
In a speech delivered in the southern business and commerce hub of Guangzhou in Guangdong province, Mukherjee had said economic ties between the two countries had grown substantially from under $3 billion in 2000.
By 2015-16, the bilateral business 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 lately provides an enabling basis for utilising these opportunities and coming together,” Mukherjee had said in an oblique reference to the disputed Line of Actual Keep watch over (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 at all times supported Beijing’s inclusion in international organisations.
India, he had said, believed that China’s presence should be there in multilateral organisations, as another way its immense population would be left unrepresented.
“The basic cardinal precept 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.