Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday called on China to invest in infrastructure and power projects in his State, wooing potential investors with a sales pitch that showcased Gujarat as a State with levels of “governance, transparency and stability” that they could not find elsewhere in India.
Mr. Modi, on his fourth visit, this time as a guest of the Communist Party of China's (CPC) International Department, spoke glowingly of India-China relations as he began his trip at an investors' meeting on Wednesday morning, declaring that “the two great countries will make Asia the centre-stage of the global economy.”
“I have always found abundant love and affection among the people of China,” he said.
“I have been saying for more than a decade that the 21st century belongs to Asia, and I have said this well before the economic analysts and financial experts highlighted the emergence of BRICS countries.”
The investors' meeting was attended by representatives of 180 Chinese companies, said Mr. Modi.
Many of the representatives, from power and engineering to infrastructure companies, said their interest in Gujarat had been sparked by stories they heard about the experiences of Chinese companies in the region, who had found the State's infrastructure a pleasant surprise.
“The roads are unlike elsewhere in India,” said a representative from a Chinese company that sells power equipment. “And we did not see any power cuts.”
Gujarat government officials identified the power sector, where the State plans to add 30,000 MW in 20 years, as having particular potential for Chinese companies. Mr. Modi also highlighted his State's special investment regions as areas where Chinese companies could invest.
On Wednesday, the Gujarat Chief Minister also met officials from the CPC and the Mayor of Beijing.
Speaking to Indian reporters, he said he was somewhat surprised by the warm welcome accorded to him, considering he was “not from the ruling party at the Centre”.
“Every meeting ran beyond the scheduled time,” he said. “Though I am not from the ruling party, there seemed to be no difference.” His talks with Politburo member Wang Gang, he said, were “frank”.
In Wednesday's talks with Chinese officials, Mr. Modi also raised sensitive issues beyond courting investment, highlighting China's presence in Paksitan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), which Chinese officials said was limited to engineering and construction projects, and the status of 22 diamond traders from Gujarat who have been in detention in Shenzhen for 22 months, awaiting sentencing.
“The case has been going on but there is no judgment,” said Mr. Modi, adding the Chinese officials said they would look into it.
Chinese energy company TBEA, which recently signed a memorandum of understanding to invest Rs. 2,500 crore in a green energy park in Gujarat, also figured in his talks following the controversy over maps showcased at its signing ceremony. Mr. Modi said he raised the issue of the “wrong maps” with Chinese officials, but added that he had not spoken to TBEA about the matter.
Leng Yong, TBEA's Vice President, said at Wednesday's meeting TBEA's experiences in Gujarat had been “positive,” with the Gujarat government “providing help on every problem”.
“It can be difficult to undersand Indian culture, and there may be some disputes and frictions. But after exchanging ideas,” he said, “problems can be solved.”