Haryana closes in on $7bn investment deal with China

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in a meeting with Wanda Chairman, Wang Jianlin (extreme left) at the headquarters of Wanda in Beijing on Friday. Mr. Lal’s visit is part of a growing decentralisation of Sino-Indian ties, where Indian states and Chinese provinces are imparting considerable influence on foreign policy.— PHOTO: PTI  

anohar Lal. Chief Minister of Haryana, who is seeking big ticket investment in the state, knocked on China’s door Friday to find himself crowded by Chinese businessmen keen to enter India.

Within hours of a slickly choreographed road show in a top-end Beijing hotel, six deals, ranging from smart cities to steel technology were already in the bag. “We are expecting investments from Japan, but more than Japan, there is a greater likelihood for investments from China,” said Mr. Lal, in a conversation with the resident Indian media in Beijing.

The upbeat mood notwithstanding, the coveted prize — a more than seven billion dollar investment by China’s Dalian Wanda Group — in an entertainment, theme and industrial park, in Haryana was still not in hand.

Numerous meetings with the China’s real estate giant, which is also the world’s largest cinema chain operator, had already been held, said Captain Abhimanyu, the Industry Minister of Haryana. Another round of talks with the group was slated later on Friday, holding the prospect of signatures on an exploratory memorandum of understanding with the Chinese conglomerate.

If the high-octane interaction helps materialise a deal, it would jump start Chinese investments in India. In turn, it would ignite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make-in-India campaign, whose teething troubles were yet to disappear. The proposed park, covering more than 3,000 acre, on the lines of Disney World, is to be established at Kharkhoda, in Haryana’s Sonipat district.

Mr. Lal’s visit is part of a growing decentralisation of Sino-Indian ties, where Indian states and Chinese provinces were imparting considerable influence on foreign policy. The Chief Minister’s visit was facilitated by the international department of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which had signed a unique agreement with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to set up a mechanism that would help Chief Ministers and other functionaries to visit China. Last year, the party had hosted Chandrababu Naidu, the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh in China.

Indian officials say that a new symbiotic economic relationship is beginning to take shape, where China’s excess manufacturing capacity, including in the real-estate arena dovetailed with the industrial demands of India’s ‘Make-in-India’ campaign. Mr. Lal said that under a new enterprise policy 2015, a target investment of Rs. 2 lakh crore, drawn from foreign and domestic sources, had been set.

That would generate 4 lakh skilled jobs — a politically significant number, in a relatively small state.

State’s ambitious plans

Unveiling the state’s ambitious plans, he said that Haryana was targeting an annual GDP growth of 8 per cent, which could be achieved through a special focus on the relatively less developed western Haryana.

Hissar, he observed, would soon have an airport — a step which could help establish an eco-system for the development of the region.

The Chief Minister, who arrived in Beijing after concluding his visit to Japan, said that a dedicated call centre in Japanese language to facilitate investments from Tokyo had also been established.

A similar exercise to encourage the flow of Chinese investments was now being actively considered. Those officers who achieved a certain level of proficiency in the two languages would be posted on three-month stints in China and Japan to hone their language skills, he said.

If the high-octane interaction helps seal a deal, it would jump start Chinese investments in India