October 23, 2013

PM’s responses to Chinese media resident in India ahead of his official visit to China

Q.1: When China’s Premier Li Keqiang visited India in May, the two Governments agreed to promote the construction of BCIM Economic Corridor. What will GoI do to promote the BCIM Economic Corridor?

Ans: India is promoting regional connectivity for balanced economic and infrastructure development within our country and accelerated integration with our neighbourhood, including with Southeast Asia. We believe that the BCIM Economic Corridor can potentially reinforce our existing connectivity initiatives and we have expressed our support in principle to the idea during Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India. To take the idea forward, we need to first get the support of the other two countries, namely Bangladesh and Myanmar and together study the various practical elements of such a corridor, its alignment, funding, responsibility of member countries, economic potential, soft infrastructure requirement, etc. Following our agreement during Premier Li’s visit to set up a Joint Study Group of all four countries, we have set up the Indian component of this JSG. India will participate with great enthusiasm in its deliberations.

Q.2: More and more Chinese companies are investing in India. Some local governments in India also want to attract more investment from China. Will the Indian Central Government do something to construct the China Industrial Zone this or next year.

Ans: India faces an unsustainable imbalance in its trade with China. One of the ways of overcoming the trade deficit is for India to attract larger flows of Foreign Direct Investment from China. We are happy that more Chinese firms are looking to India as an investment destination. During his visit to India in May 2013, Premier Li suggested that we look at the option of establishing a Chinese Industrial Park in India where companies and firms from China could cluster together. We welcome this idea. Recently, a Chinese delegation visited India and had good discussions with our concerned officials. We have also shown them a few possible sites for a Chinese Industrial Park. We will work with the Chinese side in implementing the idea.

Q.3: What are your views about the prospect of India-China cooperation in the BRICS framework? Can you give some specific suggestions? Could you brief us about progress of India’s capital implementation of the BRICS Development Bank?

Ans: BRICS cooperation draws strength from bilateral relationships between its individual members, including between India and China, which have acquired significant depth and substance. There are many functional areas of cooperation such as Urbanization, Agriculture, Health, Science and Technology under BRICS in which India and China find synergies.

It is a matter of satisfaction that the BRICS Development Bank, which was first mooted during the New Delhi Summit in March 2012, has registered significant progress. There is now agreement on key issues. I hope that BRICS technical experts would be able to resolve the remaining issues before the next Summit. Setting up of the New Development Bank wouldsend a strong signal of collective capacity of BRICS to help each other as well as other developing countries to address challenges relating to deficit of long-term infrastructure financing. Another important BRICS initiative is the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, which will help stimulate trade among our countries.

Q.4: China has accumulated lot of skill and experience on High Speed Railway (HSR) and launched cooperation with Thailand. What will be India’s plan of developing HSR and how is the potential of bilateral cooperation?

Ans: We are aware of China’s High Speed Railway development. India is currently undertaking techno-economic studies on HSR. We have not yet made a decision on whether to go forward with construction of HSR in our current stage of development. Meanwhile, the Railway authorities of India and China have been in touch with each other and are considering cooperation in station development, heavy haul freight traffic and raising the speed of passenger trains on existing tracks.

Q.5: India-China relations have witnessed enormous development in the past 10 years. Which part of bilateral ties makes you most satisfied and proud? What message will you give the new generation Chinese leadership?


It has been more than 5 years since your first official visit to China. What are your main expectations from your upcoming visit to China?

Ans: During the past 9 years that I have been Prime Minister, I have attempted to put India-China relations on a stable growth path. Working together with the Chinese leadership, my attempt has been to create a forward looking agenda for our bilateral relations. There has been tremendous increase in our economic exchanges as both India and China themselves have grown and prospered. We have also managed our differences and have kept our border region tranquil. At the same time, we have not allowed our differences to come in the way of expanding our cooperation in diverse areas. Stability and predictability in our relations has proved invaluable as both India and China address their internal priorities, particularly growth and development of 2.5 billion people.

My last visit to China five years ago came before the onset of the financial crisis and the global economic meltdown. Today, despite the fragile global economic situation, India and China continue to grow, albeit slowly. China also has a new Government in place now. I have already had useful meetings with President Xi and Premier Li earlier this year. I hope to utilize my visit to get to know the new leadership better and to work with them to consolidate the all round progress in bilateral relations and put them on a firm trajectory of sustained growth.

Q. 6: Could you brief us on the progress of the discussion of Regional Trading Arrangement (RTA) between China and India?

Ans: We have asked our Commerce Ministers to explore the idea of a Regional Trading Arrangement, for which some studies were conducted a few years ago. I am sure the Commerce Ministers will continue to discuss this idea. But I must be honest that there is a great deal of concern in our industry, given the large and growing deficit in our trade with China. When conditions are more propitious and trade is more even, we will find it more feasible to discuss an RTA or an FTA between our countries.

Q. 7: What is your view on the prospects of Border Defence Cooperation between China and India? How do you evaluate the border talks between Special Representatives?

Ans: The Boundary Question between India and China is complex and sensitive. We have established the Special Representatives mechanism to find a political solution to the Boundary Question. The Special Representatives have worked hard and arrived at the political parameters and guiding principles for a boundary resolution. In the present stage of their negotiations, they are seeking a framework for a boundary resolution. I support the work done by the Special Representatives of the two sides. This is not an easy issue and will take time to resolve.

In the meantime, both the Governments of India and China are committed to maintaining peace and tranquility in the India-China border areas. This is an important guarantor and a fundamental basis for further progress and growth in our bilateral ties. The leadership of the two countries is united on this issue. As long as we follow the principles and procedures set out in the Agreements of 1993, 1996 and 2005, expand and improve upon them where necessary to take into account the changing reality of India and China and enhance dialogue and friendly exchanges between our border troops, I am confident that the strategic consensus between leaders will continue to be reflected on the ground.