‘India-China exchange a model for the 21st century’

Civilisational ties:President Pranab Mukherjee at the Hua Lin Temple in Guangzhou, China, on Wednesday.— PHOTO: PTI  

President Pranab Mukherjee was given a rousing welcome by Chinese officials as he landed in Beijing on the second of a four-day visit to China. Speaking at a reception in Beijing presided over by Chinese Vice-President Li Yuanchan, the President emphasised cultural and people-to-people links as key to expanding relations between the two countries.

Mr. Mukherjee harked back to the past to refer to strong cultural linkages between India and China, including the exchange of knowledge to set the context for the present.

He said that they “should be seen as a model for civilisational contacts and peaceful exchanges in the 21st century”.

Arguing that Indians and Chinese today “rely on borrowed prisms and secondary sources to understand each other”, he emphasised the need for direct exchanges between the civil societies.

Call for FDI

Mr. Li said that both India and China were engaged in the projects of national rejuvenation and domestic reform. China had increased its investment and participation in railway projects and industrial parks in India, he said.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Mukherjee wrapped up his visit to Guangzhou, capital of China’s richest province, Guangdong, by inviting Chinese investors to expand their foreign direct investment in India and to leverage the various flagship initiatives launched by the Indian government such as Make in India, Digital India and the Smart City projects.

He was addressing a China-India business forum that comprised representatives from the Indian and Chinese business community and the Governor of Guangdong province, Zhu Xiaodan.

Trade deficit

While the trade deficit between the two countries was a concern, “India would like to see a greater market for our products … in IT and IT-related services, pharmaceuticals and drugs and agro-products... in China”, he said.

Following the speech, Mr. Mukherjee visited the historic Hua Lin temple — believed to have been built after the arrival of Indian monk Bodhidharma in the sixth century.

He later met the Communist Party of China’s party secretary for the Guangdong province Hu Chunhua at a lunch meeting. Broadly three issues were discussed: economic ties and issues related to trade and investment; cultural relations; and China’s federal system.

Mr. Hu told Mr. Mukherjee that Guangdong had increasingly become a major port of call for Indian traders and businesspeople and that after Japan and South Korea, Indians comprised the third largest business community in the province.

He added that he was confident about greater engagement and enhancement of ties between Guangdong and India. Initiatives such as sister-province relationship, for example between Gujarat and Guangdong which was established in 2014, were also discussed in the meeting.

The two countries rely on borrowed prisms to understand each other, says President Mukherjee