Pranab opens consulate in China, focuses on economic ties

June 6th, 2008 - 12:02 am ICT by IANS  

Guangzhou, June 5 (IANS) Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Thursday opened India’s consulate in Guangzhou, capital of China’s Guangdong province, and set an upbeat tone for expanding economic ties, saying the two countries are likely to surpass their $60 billion trade target before the 2010 deadline. Recalling that Guangdong had always been at the forefront of China’s ambitious economic reforms programme, Mukherjee, who is on his first official visit to China as external affairs minister, said India is keen to learn from the province’s experience, including its remarkable success in developing special economic zones.

“Today, we are among the fastest growing economies in the world. Our economic development is providing the momentum for growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region,” Mukherjee said while formally inaugurating the Guangzhou consulate.

The inauguration function was attended, among others, by Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua, India’s Ambassador to China Nirupama Rao and Guangzhou Vice Mayor Chen Mingde.

Around 250 Indian and Chinese guests and members of the consular corps also attended the gala function that, in the words of the Guangdong governor, opened “a new phase” in economic ties between the two countries.

“The trade target of $60 billion by 2010 set by our two prime ministers is very likely to be surpassed before 2010,” Huang said while calling for building more economic, trade, scientific, cultural and people-to-people contacts.

“China is now our largest trading partner,” Mukherjee, who began his four-day visit to China Wednesday, pointed out.

Trade between Guangdong province and India amounted to $5.9 billion in 2007. Guangdong alone accounts for one-third of China’s total foreign trade.

According to Xinhua news agency, Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has hailed the comprehensive development of the China-India relationship, saying it was “at the best period of development in history”, and faced “important strategic opportunities”.

Yang also vowed to closely cooperate with the Indian side to strengthen exchanges and dialogue, expand economic and trade cooperation and consider the concerns of each other to promote the China-India strategic partnership.

Yang also expressed his appreciation of the Indian government’s aid to China’s quake-hit areas. India has pledged $5 million for the earthquake victims and has sent planeloads of relief material, with more on the way.

Xinhua also quoted Mukherjee saying that India would never tolerate any political anti-China activities by anyone on Indian territory.

During his talks with Yang, Mukherjee reiterated the Indian government’s persistent stance that the Tibetan Autonomous Region is a part of China’s territory, the Chinese foreign ministry said.

Mukherjee had visited China in 2006 as India’s defence minister during which the two countries signed a landmark pact on improving their military-military ties. As a follow up to this, the two counties had begun their annual strategic dialogue last year and staged their first war games in China in December. Another joint drill is to be staged in India later this year.

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