Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrives in New Delhi on Sunday as the Special Envoy of President Xi Jinping. Responding exclusively to Ananth Krishnan by e-mail, Mr. Wang said the Chinese leadership was keen to deepen ties with the new government in New Delhi under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He expressed confidence that both sides could address differences over the boundary dispute. Full text of the interview:
As a new government takes office in New Delhi, this will be the first high level visit from China to India. How does China view the future of working with the new government in Delhi under Prime Minister Modi?
I am very honoured to visit India as the special envoy of President Xi Jinping shortly after the new government took office. I was here in this beautiful country many times, but this trip is different. It is a trip to convey messages and to get to know more friends. It is also a trip to cement our existing friendship and explore further cooperation.
India was a cradle of splendid ancient civilisation, and I am glad to see this country gaining new vigor and vitality. Less than two weeks into office, the new Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already shown to the world its resolve and courage in pushing forward reform and development, and its sincerity and enthusiasm in seeking friendship and cooperation with other countries. The international community, impressed by the great opportunities in India, is full of confidence in the future of the country.
As a friendly neighbour of India, China also takes the development of India as an opportunity. Being ancient Eastern civilizations at similar development stages, China and India are both pursuing the great dream of national renewal, dreams that are interconnected and mutually compatible. We have long been partners of cooperation, and we may well build closer partnership for development. My trip brings a most important message to the people of India ― China stands by your side throughout your efforts of reform and development, and your pursuit of dreams. China is ready to work with our Indian friends for an even brighter future of our strategic and cooperative partnership.
How do you view the relationship as it stands overall, and can we expect President Xi Jinping to make his first visit to India later this year?
China-India relationship has entered the track of sound development since the beginning of the century. China is satisfied about the achievements in this relationship in recent years, and is full of confidence and expectation on the future of this relationship.
Our confidence comes from the strong efforts of our leaders on developing the bilateral relationship, which is the most important driving force behind it. Shortly after Prime Minister Modi took office, President Xi Jinping has instructed me to visit India as the special envoy, and Premier Li Keqiang has sent a congratulatory message to Prime Minister Modi and held a telephone conversation with him. President Xi Jinping is expected to pay an official visit to India within this year. All this gives full expression to the great sincerity and resolve of our leaders on enhancing political mutual trust and deepening mutually-beneficial cooperation between the two countries. I am confident that with the joint efforts of the new leaders in China and India, the bilateral relations will surely usher in a new era and reach a new height.
Our expectation comes from the enormous potential in our cooperation. China-India cooperation in the various areas has indeed made rapid progress since the beginning of the century. For example, bilateral trade volume has grown by over 20 times, mutual visits have increased nearly three-folds, and direct flights between the two countries was up from naught to 45 a week. However, given our 2.5 billion population, such cooperation is still far from the scale and level that it needs to be. Just like the emerging tip of a massive buried treasure that awaits your discovery, or a huge volcano that is preparing itself for a billowing eruption, much is to be expected from the cooperation between our two countries.
China-India relationship is the most dynamic and highly potential bilateral relationship in the 21st century. It is vital for China and India, two major forces in the process towards a multi-polar world, to achieve peaceful, cooperative and inclusive development. This will not only bring huge benefits to our two peoples, but also will contribute to peace in Asia and the world, and to addressing the development issue of mankind.
Are there any particular areas you can highlight where you see any room for new cooperation between the two countries?
I believe that practical cooperation between China and India faces three important opportunities. First, the opportunity of mutual complementarity. China and India, one being a global manufacturer and the other a major service provider, may complement each other well with their different economic strengths. Chinese enterprises, with their rich experience in infrastructure development and manufacturing, can contribute to India's development in these areas, thus creating bright spots for cooperation. We also welcome more competitive companies from India to enter the Chinese market for opportunities in business cooperation. Moreover, our mutually-reinforcing cooperation is expected to grow in such areas as two-way investment, financial services and new and high technologies.
Second, the opportunity of economies of scale. The combined population of China and India, the largest and the second largest respectively, exceeds 1/3 of the world's total. In addition to their vast land, diverse culture and diligent people, China and India are also seeing their economies on a fast-growth track. The complementarity and connection between our two economies will help unleash significant economies of scale, and produce the most competitive production basis, the most attractive consumer market, and the most powerful growth engine of the world.
Third, the opportunity of regional and global cooperation. China and India are both members of the BRICS and emerging economies. We are well-positioned and duty-bound to strengthen cooperation in promoting regional economic integration, increasing regional connectivity, facilitating global free trade, upholding energy and food security, and tackling climate change, and to make our contribution to the economic prosperity of Asia and the world.
I believe that as long as our two countries pursue the same dreams, align our strategies, connect our markets and strengthen people-to-people ties, the world will soon witness the joint national renewal of the two ancient civilizations of China and India, and an Asian century of prosperity and rejuvenation.
Both sides last year signed a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement when former Prime Minister Singh visited Beijing. How does China view the impact of the agreement and the current situation along the boundary?
The boundary question is indeed a difficult one, but with strong will and resolve, we will eventually find a solution. Even if we could not resolve it for the time being, we could at least manage it effectively, not allowing it to affect the normal development of our relations. Thanks to our joint efforts, the border areas between China and India have on the whole enjoyed peace and stability over the past 30 years and more. What has happened proves that as long as we respect and accommodate each other's concerns, and insist in managing differences through dialogues instead of confrontation, we are surely able to properly handle the boundary question, and to reduce its impact on our bilateral relations to the minimum level.
The Border Defence Cooperation Agreement signed last year represents further efforts by the two sides to strengthen communication and properly manage differences on the basis of a series of existing mechanisms related to the boundary question. It will help increase direct engagement and mutual trust between the Chinese and Indian border troops and promote peace and tranquility in the border areas.
It is unavoidable that between neighbours, there might be certain issues left from history or some differences in immediate interests. However, let me emphasize that China and India have much more strategic consensus than differences, and cooperation is our top priority. No country can choose its neighbor, but friendship may be fostered. Certain issues may not be avoided, but innovative answers could be found. One can not rewrite history, but the future is in our hands.
On trade relations, both sides have been discussing setting up China-dedicated industrial parks in India. Could you share with us the current status of this initiative?
To carry out cooperation on industrial zones is one of the important agreements reached between leaders of the two countries. An important piece of experience we have drawn from China's sustained and rapid economic growth over the past 30 years and more is the setting up of development zones to attract foreign investment with preferential policies and promote cluster development of industries. China is willing to share its experience and cooperate with India in this regard.
At the current stage, competent authorities of the two countries are negotiating on relevant agreements, which are expected to be finalized and signed soon. China has sent a delegation to India to inspect the prospective sites of the zones. To my knowledge, some Chinese businesses are already on the move and have begun construction on the ground. The two governments need to encourage and step up policy guidance to our businesses. We hope that India will introduce more preferential policies and investment facilitation for Chinese businesses so that we can push for early, substantive outcome of such cooperation and foster signature projects of China-India practical cooperation.
China recently suffered a series of terror attacks. Considering the increasing and common challenges faced by both countries in this regard, do you see any room for India and China to do more on counterterrorism cooperation?
Recently, China was hit by a number of serious violent terrorist attacks. The Indian government publicly stated its position immediately after the attacks, standing together with China and condemning the terrorist attacks. China highly appreciates India's position.
China and India, both being victims of terrorism, share common interests and face similar challenges in counter-terrorism, and enjoy broad prospects for cooperation in this area. The two sides have already had good cooperation in terrorism-related issues, including policy exchange and joint exercises. Going forward, China stands ready to deepen counter-terrorism cooperation with India to better safeguard the common security interests of the two countries.
What is more, terrorism is the enemy of all mankind. It has highly complex root causes, and to address this menace would take a rather long and arduous process. Solidarity and enhanced cooperation as well as unremitting efforts of the international community are required to root out terrorism and uphold regional and global security and stability.