Special Correspondent

Economic co-operation is the focal point, says Mao Siwei

KOLKATA: The revised trade target of $60 billion between China and India may be achieved ahead of its target of 2010. China’s Consulate General in Kolkata, Mao Siwei, said that according to latest statistics, bilateral trade of $18.8 billion had already been transacted between the two countries in the first four months of 2008. The whole year’s figure might be over $56 billion, he felt.

Addressing a meeting at the Indian Chamber of Commerce here he said India’s exports to China had increased by 87 per cent and its trade deficit was decreasing in a big way. “China is becoming India’s biggest trade partner,” Mr. Mao said.

However, there were hardly any chamber members at the meeting as the city observed its second consecutive ‘bandh’ on Friday. There were many members of the city’s consular corp including diplomats from Myanmar, Germany, Russia and Nepal at the meet.

Mr. Mao said that economic co-operation was the driving force and the focal point of China’s ties with India. He felt that China’s policy towards India would not let border issues get in the way of developing the overall relationship with India. The Tibetan issue should not affect bilateral ties either, he felt. “This is my personal understanding,” Mr. Mao clarified. He was speaking on the chamber theme ‘India China Economic Partnership: role in a globalised world’.

Mr. Mao liked the coinage ‘Chindia’ saying that his Internet search had revealed as many as 1.69 lakh pages with the word Chindia on it. “My definition of the word is the joint rise of China and India. I believe that the process of rising will be a joint one with joint efforts by our two peoples rather than two separate developments.” He stressed that this was not a wishful thinking but a conclusion based on the fact that the economic strengths of the two countries were complementary.

He felt that the complementarity had been proved once again in the last few years by the rapid growth of bilateral trade. From $2 billion in 1999, the figure increased by nearly 20 times to touch $38.7 billion in 2001 and the original target of $40 billion set for 2010 was achieved in 2007 and had to be revised to $60 billion. “I would like to say that even this revised target will be achieved again much earlier”.

He said that steel and auto-tyre making companies from China were keen to set up shop here. He also said that the new consulate office here was issuing an average of 100 visas daily.