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Indian Prime Minister Warns of More Assertive China


China has dismissed fears expressed by India's prime minister that Beijing is intent on establishing a foothold in South Asia. Chinese officials say their government is committed to peace and that the rising powers should work together for development of both countries.

Mr. Singh told the editors of the Times of India newspaper that his country must prepare for a more assertive China and that Beijing is extending its regional reach for resources and geo-political clout.

In Beijing Tuesday, his rare open criticism of China was met with insistence that Beijing is committed to peace and stability between the two emerging powers. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu did not respond directly to the Indian leader's comments. But he said rising powers should work together for development of South Asia. She says peaceful co-existence serves the common interest of both nations.

Trade between India and China is booming but ties are frayed over the disputed border area of Kashmir region. India also is distrustful of China's growing military might and its relationship with New Delhi's traditional foe, Pakistan.

China and India have a long history of disagreements.

Beijing has long been annoyed at India because it granted asylum to the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled to India in the 1950s following a failed uprising in his homeland.

The two fought a border war in 1962 and still have unresolved border disputes.

In his newspaper interview, Mr. Singh said there is plenty of room for China and India to cooperate, but he also said that Beijing could exploit the differences between India and Pakistan to establish a foothold in South Asia.

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