Economy

‘China attaches great importance to Modi visit’

SRINIVASAN RAMANI | Updated on: Jan 23, 2018

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We are willing to provide opportunities to increase India’s exports to Beijing: Chinese envoy

Speaking on the eve of the 65th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-Indian diplomatic relations on April 1, 1950, the Chinese Ambassador to India, Le Yucheng, emphasised the need for a renewal of ties in tune with the realities of the 21st century — a globalised world presenting new developmental challenges for its two most populous countries, China and India. The Ambassador identified several areas which, he suggested, present new avenues for cooperation between the two nations, such as infrastructure development and regional security. Excerpts from an interview:

The Chinese President Xi Jinping had paid a state visit to India in September 2014. Several agreements were signed by the two governments during the visit. Could you tell us about the implementation of these agreements?

During President Xi’s visit, the leaders of the two countries reached a consensus on building a closer developmental partnership between China and India. We had charted out a blueprint for development of our bilateral relations in the next five-ten years and opened up a new chapter in our ties. We had signed 12 agreements on trade and economic cooperation, covering fields such as industrial parks, railways, credit and leasing, with cumulative investments and financing worth $13 billion.

We are stepping up efforts to implement the outcome of President Xi’s visit. I receive various Chinese delegations visiting India almost every day, I have met with many ministers and other important members of government, and have visited some Indian cities including Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, and Amritsar. Through these meetings and visits, I deeply feel that bilateral cooperation is in full swing, especially in the fields of trade and investment.

Railways have undoubtedly been the focus of our cooperation. Experts from both sides have met several times and positive progress has been made. The feasibility studies of the project on raising the speed on the Chennai-Bengaluru-Mysore section and railway station renovation projects will be finished soon. Indian experts have gone to China to receive training in heavy haul transportation. The feasibility study for the 1,754-km long Delhi-Chennai high-speed rail corridor by the China Railway Siyuan Survey and Design Group is in full swing. Chinese companies are also involved in the bidding for feasibility studies on other sections of high-speed rail.

Construction in the Pune automobile industrial park, where the plan is to invest $5 billion in three phases until 2030, will start soon. The industrial park will create around one lakh jobs and an annual output of $20 billion on completion. A well-known Chinese private company, Sany, has also set up factories in Pune and created hundreds of jobs locally. I recently attended the inauguration ceremony of Huawei’s R&D centre in Bengaluru and found that the centre employs more than 2,000 local employees. The China Huaneng Group will also invest $3 billion in Gujarat to build 4,000 MW of coal-fired power plants. Alibaba, Xiaomi and other Chinese companies are also eager to invest in India.

The year 2015 is being observed as the ‘Visit India Year’ in China. The Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attended its launch ceremony in Beijing in February. Now the number of Chinese citizens visiting India is growing rapidly.

The number of Chinese tourists in the last two months grew by 10 per cent over the same period last year. If India streamlines and facilitates the issuing of visas to Chinese tourists, I believe the number of visitors will grow much faster.

Prime Minister Modi will visit China in May. What expectations do you have from this visit?

During President Xi’s historic visit, the memorable picture of the two leaders operating the spinning wheel in Gujarat, the home State of Prime Minister Modi, was received very well by the Chinese people.

The Chinese people believe in reciprocating the courtesy of others. So, I’m sure when Prime Minister Modi visits China later this year, he will be warmly welcomed by the Chinese government and the people.His first visit to China since becoming Prime Minister is the highlight of China-India relations in this year. China attaches great importance to this visit. The two sides are engaged in close communications, preparing for this visit.

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang will hold comprehensive, wide-ranging and in-depth discussions with Prime Minister Modi on areas of bilateral, strategic and pragmatic cooperation, cultural and local exchange, and major international issues. Modi will have an opportunity to communicate with China’s business people, young students and other citizens. Companies from both sides are also preparing a series of cooperative projects. If they arrive at a consensus then the agreements could be worth no less than $10 billion.

In short, this visit will be an important and fruitful one, which will effectively enrich the connotation of a closer development partnership between the two countries, and promote China-India relations to a new level.

There is a trade imbalance between India and China, with India’s trade deficit being around $37.8 billion in 2014. At the same time, bilateral trade in 2014 topped $70.6 billion. How do you think this imbalance can be corrected?

The Chinese side does not like trade surplus and prefers balanced trade. China takes the Indian concern of trade imbalance very seriously. Although the main reason for our trade imbalance lies in objective factors such as the differences in industrial structures of our two countries, we are willing to provide opportunities to increase India’s exports to China.

Since 2008, the Ministry of Commerce of China has sent six trade promotion delegations to boost imports from India. China warmly welcomes the Indian side to expand trade with China through various trading platforms, such as China-South Asia Expo and China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair), and also the Import Promotion Centres recently built in Shanghai, Tianjin and other cities.

In order to increase the popularity of the Indian products, China also welcomes various Indian chambers of commerce to conduct product promotion events in China. Besides, China hopes that India will ease restrictions on exporting its competitive products, such as iron ore etc., to China, reduce tariffs and encourage Indian companies to export more agricultural products.

To encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in India and participate in the ‘Make in India’ campaign, the key is to reduce restrictions and streamline the procedures on business visas for Chinese business people.

More Chinese businessmen will bring more investment, which will help in improving the bilateral trade balance.

Published on March 31, 2015
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