China denied rivalry with India, drums up trade, $16 bn deals (Roundup)

December 16th, 2010 - 12:06 am ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Dec 15 (IANS) Rejecting the “dragon” and “elephant” rivalry envisaged by the West between China and India, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Wednesday began his three-day visit to India by unveiling $16 billion business deals amid New Delhi’s concerns over stapled visas for residents of Jammu and Kashmir. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hosted a private dinner for the visiting Chinese leader and aired concerns over the issue of China’s stapled visas for residents of Jammu and Kashmir even as the two leaders agreed that the two countries were partners and not rivals in a changing world order.

The two leaders, who have met many times on the sidelines of multilateral summits, assured each other that the relationship between the two emerging powers was that of complementarity and not one of rivalry, informed sources said.

During formal delegation level talks Thursday, the two sides are likely to set a new $60 billion-plus target for bilateral trade this year. They are also expected to announce the decision to activate a hotline between the leaders of the two countries.

Taking up the issue of stapled visas, Manmohan Singh reminded the Chinese premier of the compelling need for both sides to be sensitive to each other’s core concerns. He also let it be known that Kashmir as a core concern for India just as Taiwan and Tibet were for Beijing.

Manmohan Singh is also understood to have sought China’s support for India’s candidature for an expanded UN Security Council.

The special aircraft carrying the Chinese leader, who is accompanied by around 400 top businessmen, touched down here Wednesday afternoon. Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao warmly welcomed Wen on his second visit to India in the last five years.

Wen’s visit to India comes at a critical time when bilateral relations have come under strain over issues like stapled visas, increased assertiveness by Beijing over Arunachal Pradesh and the boundary dispute, and accelerated investment by China in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

“China-India relations face major opportunities and enjoy broad prospects,” the premier said in a statement released on his arrival. Wen amplified on the India-China “friends forever” message sent when he visited the Tagore International School to interact with its students and talk about Mandarin, Chinese culture and calligraphy.

The Chinese premier struck a positive and optimistic note about the future of India-China relations as he focused on setting a new target for bilateral trade which is set to surpass $60 billion this year and announced business deals worth $16 billion.

“China and India are partners for cooperation and not rivals in competition,” Wen said at a conference organised jointly by the three leading Indian industry lobbies at the ITC Maurya Hotel.

“There is enough space in the world for the development of both China and India. There are enough areas for us to cooperate,” he said at the event, which was attended by Who’s Who of the corporate sector of the two sides.

“We are both in process of rapid industrialisation and urbanisation accompanied by fast and sustainable economic growth,” Wen said, adding that it was not proper to liken China to a dragon and India to an elephant. “I don’t agree with such a view. I don’t think business people agree either.”

Wen also announced in the presence of Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma that Chinese companies are scheduled to sign economic and trade agreement worth more than $16 billion with Indian companies. Some 50 deals have already been signed, including a large one between the China Development Bank and Reliance Power.

With bilateral trade poised to surpass $60 billion this year, Wen said that during his meeting with Manmohan Singh Thursday he would discuss ways to enhance it further and assured to address India’s concerns over the widening trade deficit estimated to be around $24 billion.

The Chinese premier also assured he was open to more imports and would try to expand the prospects for Indian exporters. He suggested that IT, pharmaceuticals and agro-products were areas which Indian exporters can explore for major inroads into China.

Wen will be accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan Thursday morning before he sits down for delegation-level talks with Manmohan Singh.

The two leaders are expected to discuss all issues of concern, including stapled visas, Chinese investment in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, the boundary issue and the cross-border rivers. They will also discuss a host of global issues, including the UN reforms, the global financial crisis, climate change and global terrorism.

Trade-related issues, including ways to address ballooning trade deficit, will figure in the discussions. The decision to activate a hotline between the leaders of the two countries is also likely to be announced.

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