Chinese Consul General in Kolkata Ma Zhanwu on Wednesday said there has been “much talk” of introducing a bullet train connecting Kunming in China to Kolkata via Dhaka and Myanmar. Speaking at a thinktank conference organised jointly by the Consulate and Observer Research Foundation, Zhanwu also brought up the issues of BCIM economic corridor and the setting up of a Belt Road Initiative. The Chinese have in the past held the Indian government responsible for not pushing BRI through.
“The Chinese policy as far as our neighbours are concerned is one of peaceful development. Chinese President Mr Xi has emphasized that China will actively promote international cooperation through Belt Road initiative. In doing so, it helps to achieve policy, infrastructure, trade, financial and people-to-people connectivity and thus build a platform for international development. President Xi Jinping has talked about the Belt Road Initiative and stressed China will uphold dialogue and consultation, joint contribution, shared benefits and mutual learning and trust. BRI is not a Chinese design to conquer other countries and conquer our neighbours. In our cooperation with Russia, there are specific Russian projects and programmes which we have adopted in our policy as well. This can be the case with India — for instance with the Look and Act East policies — China can adopt these policies as well and contribute to them,” he said.
Elaborating on the bullet train project, he said, “… all these countries can be linked within a couple of hours. There can be industrial hubs and clusters created along this line.”
The topic set by the conference is ‘Connectivity, Trade Relations and Investment Opportunities between China and Eastern India’’. Attendees included Chinese scholars from institutes such as Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences and Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences, among others. On the Indian side, there were representatives from the ORF, Vishwa Bharati University, IIM Calcutta, Jadavpur University, Calcutta University and others.
“We are holding this conference in an interesting backdrop. As we all know, the world has changed remarkably in the past few years. There has been multi-polarisation. There were two super powers before — USSR and USA. Then there was just America. But recently, Donald Trump has called America a developing nation. The fact is that there is no one super power any longer. Developing countries, including China and India, are on the rise. And this trend cannot be reversed. The rise of India is irreversible. Africa has bullet trains now, which was unthinkable till a few years ago… Even with the new America First policy, globalisation cannot be turned back…” said Zhanwu.