China hopes to make President Xi’s visit a success

modi-china-updateIt’s a competition India will welcome. With Japan unveiling a mammoth $35 billion package for infrastructural development in Asia’s third largest economy, China is also looking to raise the bar for its economic engagement with India during President Xi Jinping’s trip to Delhi later this month.

President Xi is expected to announce big-ticket investments when he comes here for his maiden visit to India around mid-September. “When President Xi visits India, you can expect a sense of camaraderie and the kind of friendship which will bring a complete change in the manner the two neighbors are engaged,” said Nirmala
Sitharaman, India’s Minister of State for Commerce and Industry September 2, after a day-long meeting with Chinese officials led by her Chinese counterpart Gao Hucheng. Sitharaman was speaking to Beijing-based Indian reporters after the India-China Joint Economic Group meeting.

“As the talks went, there was a lot of interest and lot of keenness…they want to make Xi’s visit a success, a high-profile one,” she said. “They want a good profile (for the visit)…good announcements…(they are) on the same page as we are.”

The talks were mainly focused on Chinese investments to be announced by Xi during his visit to India.
She also said that India wants Chinese investments and expertise to upgrade the existing tracks to increase the speed of the trains up to about 160 km, besides modernizing railway stations. The minister stressed that India is also expecting some major investments decisions concerning the agreement on industrial parks, which was signed earlier in June.

“Issues are no longer being debated. These are now reaching a stage where resolutions are most likely,” Sitharaman said. The Chinese commerce minister, she pointed out, was very receptive to India’s concerns about the ballooning trade deficit and procedural hurdles in the way of market access for Indian pharmaceutical and information technology industries. She said discussions were positive and the tone of the talks could “only result in tangible outcomes”.

With Japan announcing financial, technical and operational support for bullet train projects in India during the recent visit of Prime Minister Modi to Japan, China will try to outbid its competitor in the upcoming visit. But in the China-India story, it is not all about investments; there are some festering issues, including the decades-old boundary dispute, which continue to dog bilateral ties.

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