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China ready to meet ‘half way’; asks India to boost efficiency

"Of course we look forward to reforms. Economic reform is in India's own interests," said Wang Yi.

By: Press Trust of India | Dushanbe | September 14, 2014 1:42:36 pm

Ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit, China has sought “work efficiency” in India and welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to push reforms to spur economic growth, saying it was “ready to meet India halfway” in its quest for development and prosperity.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China was all set to sign pacts providing for major investment in infrastructure projects in India including industrial parks and railways networks during Xi’s visit while expressing confidence that the trip will elevate the bilateral ties to a “new level”.

“Of course we look forward to reforms. Economic reform is in India’s own interests. We can tell that Prime Minister Modi is pushing ahead with the reforms. If you insist on me mentioning one area, we hope you raise your efficiency of work,” he said when asked to identify areas for reform to boost Chinese investments in India.

China’s foreign exchange reserves, the largest in the world, reached a record USD 3.95 trillion in March and it plans to invest around USD 500 billion overseas in the next five years, a share of which is expected to find India’s way. 60-year-old Xi, who took over as the head of the ruling Communist Party in 2012 and President and military chief in March last year, had been sending clear signals of boosting bilateral relations with India and is likely to make major announcements about Chinese investment in India’s infrastructure sector.

“We can feel the strong desire of the new government of India led by Prime Minister Modi to strengthen China-India relationship. Probably, this is fully in line with the fundamental interests and wishes of India as a nation and its people,” Wang said. Welcoming efforts by Modi to bring a new momentum in the Indian economy, he called for joining of hands by the “two major markets” in the world to chart a new course of growth in Asia while and said the “highly complicated” boundary dispute should not be allowed to hamper bilateral relations.

“Our overall thinking is that China and India, as two big neighbours, as two big markets and as two of the world’s major civilizations should unite for even closer cooperation so that together we can usher in a new path of growth and development for Asia in the 21st Century,” Wang told PTI in an interview here in the Tajik capital.

Calling for greater cooperation in key areas, he said the time has come for China and India to seek joint development and prosperity so that together both the countries could contribute to peace and prosperity of the humanity. “We are ready to meet India halfway and echo India’s efforts and we have full confidence that under leadership of Prime Minister Modi, China-India relations will enjoy even broader prospects,” Wang said.

Wang identified trade imbalance between the two countries as a major issue and underlined the need to address it. The bilateral trade in 2013-14 declined to USD 65.85 billion from a high of USD 74 billion in 2011. The trade deficit stood at USD 35 billion in favour of China as against USD 39 billion in 2012-13.

Talking about state of Indian economy, Wang said economic reform was crucial for fueling the growth rate. “Of course we look forward to reforms. Economic reform is in India’s interests. We can tell that Prime Minister Modi is pushing ahead with the reforms,” he said.

Asked about the boundary dispute, the Chinese Foreign Minister termed it as a “highly complicated” issue and said both sides will have to maintain peace and stability along the border areas till its resolution. “This is something leftover from history. It is highly complicated. We have set up a complete set of dialogue and conversation mechanism. I hope that the two sides will make joint efforts to move towards the direction of resolving the boundary issue through cooperation,” he said.

Wang said both the countries had agreed not to let the boundary issues hamper the overall interests of the bilateral relationship. India asserts that the border dispute covered about 4,000 km, while China claims that it confined to about 2,000 km to the area of Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers as Southern Tibet.

India and China have so far held 17 rounds of talks by Special Representatives to resolve the dispute. Wang said a number of agreements will be signed during Xi’s visit to India beginning September 17. “The upcoming trip to India by President Xi will elevate China-India relationship to a new level through concerted efforts of both the sides.

“The Indian side, including Prime Minister Modi and your President are attaching lot of importance to President’s Xi’s upcoming visit to India and we believe with the joint efforts of both sides, the visit will be a full success,” he said. He said both the sides will sign three agreements marking the establishment of sister city relationship which will be a major step to promote sub-national level cooperation.

Identifying terrorism as a major challenge, he said the international community has the responsibility to work together to combat the menace. Wang also welcomed India’s bid to become a member of the Shanghai Corporation Organisation, a China-dominated security
grouping which is increasingly seen as a counterweight to NATO.

The SCO in its summit here on Friday had set the ball rolling to make India a member of the bloc which will give the largest democracy a greater say in issues relating to combating terrorism and involvement in major oil and gas projects.

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