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Seize the new opportunities in India-China cooperation

May 22, 2013 02:56 IST

We present the translation of the full speech given by Chiese Prime Minister Li Keqiang at the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Namaste (Good day)!

It is my great pleasure to come here and meet with friends from various sectors who care about friendly relations between China and India. I wish to thank the Indian Council of World Affairs for the warm reception and thoughtful arrangements.

Twenty-seven years ago, I visited India as a leader of China’s youth organisation. During the visit, I was deeply impressed by India’s vast territory, splendid civilisation and talented people. Returning to India after so many years has brought back to me many fond memories. So let me take this opportunity to express, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, our deep respect to the great people of India!

Over the last two days, I have had friendly, candid and fruitful talks and meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders. Both sides are very satisfied with the visit and there are positive commentaries in international media. We both agree that as neighbouring countries with the largest populations and greatest market potential, China and India are natural partners of cooperation and we should see each other’s development as an important opportunity for ourselves. Our two countries have far more common interests than differences.

If we can achieve common development, it will be a true blessing for Asia and the world. Both sides have expressed a determination to open up a new chapter in the bilateral relations, and foster new bright spots of Asian cooperation and new engines for the global economy.

Most importantly, as strategic partners, China and India have reached extensive strategic consensus and increased strategic trust. Rather than shying away from the boundary question which has been left over from history, we have agreed to advance the boundary negotiations. We both believe that as two ancient civilizations, China and India have the wisdom to find a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution. Before the boundary question is resolved, we will improve the relevant mechanisms on border affairs and increase their efficiency, properly manage differences, and jointly maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas.

This serves the common interests of both countries. With regard to the issue of trans-border river, the Chinese side understands India’s concerns. In the larger interest of China-India relations as well as the humanitarian spirit, we have been providing assistance to the Indian side in terms of sharing flood-season hydrological information and managing emergency situations. We are ready to enhance cooperation with India in this regard, and strengthen communication on the utilisation and protection of trans-border rivers.

As for the Indian side’s concern about the bilateral trade deficit, let me say that we would like to see more competitive Indian products enter the Chinese market and stand ready to provide facilitation. It has never been China’s intention to seek a trade surplus. Only a dynamic trade balance is sustainable. So China supports its enterprises to increase investment in India and encourages Chinese companies to expand trade in services. Through these and other ways, we can narrow the trade gap in goods.

During this visit, the two sides also discussed regional security issues. We both hope to see peace and tranquility in South Asia and encourage dialogue as the way to resolve the relevant issues. The fact that we are able to put issues of mutual concern on the table and have open and honest discussions about them shows that both sides have the sincerity for exchanges and the wisdom for solving problems. As long as we look to the future, increase mutual trust and focus energy on resolving problems and deepening cooperation, we will succeed in taking China-India relations to a new high.

During my visit, the two sides have agreed some new, practical outcomes for the purpose of growing our Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity. First, we have launched a new agenda for all-round cooperation between our two fast growing neighboring countries. The Joint Statement issued by the two sides provides the strategic framework for furthering cooperation in the political, economic, cultural, people-to-people, international and other arenas. It will be a new launch pad for China-India relations.

The two sides have confirmed that China and India are important partners rather than competitors. To achieve common development, China and India need to sign a number of agreements for all-round cooperation. During this visit, we have made a good start.

Second, we have established new ways for connecting and drawing on the complementarity of our two most promising markets. The two sides have discussed trade and investment facilitation, and agreed to promote large cooperation projects including industrial zones and railways, and work for a dynamic balance in bilateral trade and a larger scale of economic cooperation between China and India.

Third, we have explored new ways for increasing connectivity between our two emerging economies. We are ready to jointly initiate the development of a BCIM Economic Corridor, promote border trade and create a bigger market and greater synergy for development.

Fourth, we have identified new areas of people-to-people and cultural exchanges between our two time-honored nations. The two sides have decided to deepen cultural and youth exchanges, and designated 2014 as the Year of China-India Friendly Exchanges to increase mutual understanding and friendship. I am confident that it will not take long to harvest rich fruits from the seeds of friendship we have sown today.

Fifth, we have agreed to strengthen communication and coordination in international and regional affairs. Both sides would like to see better representation and greater voice for major developing countries in international organizations. China would like to see India play a more important and constructive role in the world.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We live in an age of change, but there are always certain things that are enduring and full of vigor and vitality. India is such a nation, as young as it is old. For thousands of years, India has written magnificent chapters in human history. Today, it is one of the fastest growing economies of the world. India has seen a steady rise in its national strength and international standing and it is playing an increasingly notable role as a major country in the world. As India’s friendly neighbor, China offers hearty congratulations on its enormous achievements.

China and India are connected by common mountains and rivers; our friendly exchanges date back to ancient times. Our two time-honoured Oriental nations have both written an amazing history.

In the past few centuries, both countries suffered foreign oppression and external shocks. Now we are both on a great journey towards modernisation and we have both registered an annual growth rate of over 7 per cent in the last decade.

And our relations have entered a track of sound and mature growth. With a combined population of over one-third of the world’s total, our rejuvenation and interaction attract the attention of the world. Without a doubt, China-India relations are one of the most important bilateral relationships in the 21st century world.

Today, political globalisation and economic globalisation are moving forward in parallel; commonalities coexist with diversity. It is true that there are pockets of conflict in some parts of the world, but the trend of peace, development and cooperation is clear and irreversible.

Many emerging markets and developing countries are on the rise, and China and India have tremendous room for expanding cooperation.Building on what we have achieved and looking ahead to the future, we must firmly seize the new opportunities in strategic cooperation between China and India.

Cultural interflow and mutual learning between our two great civilizations will generate fresh vitality in the new era

China and India each boasts a distinct civilization that adds radiance to the other. They both are the cream of history and the crystallisation of human wisdom. The Indian culture emphasises harmony, inclusiveness, spiritual transcendence and hopes for the future; the Chinese culture values peace, perseverance, self-discipline and social commitment.

All are useful guidelines for tackling the deep-seated problems and challenges facing mankind today. As long as we follow the principle of inclusiveness and mutual learning, we will be able to rise above differences and build consensus so that our two great civilizations will brim with fresh vitality and create new splendors.

The complementarity and connection of our two big markets will unleash new potential for development

China and India are two markets with great potential. If every one of our combined 2.5 billion population buys a new mobile phone, it will blow up the orders list of all IT manufacturers in the world. Our industrial structures are highly complementary. India has a competitive edge in IT, software and biomedicine, while China is seeing rapid expansion of its machinery, textile and emerging industries.

India is in a major drive to improve infrastructure, an area where China has rich experience. Our two markets, if connected, will be greater than the mere sum of the parts. Such a strategy will help to sustain economic growth in both countries and inject new dynamism into the global economy.

The common development of our two big neighboring countries will create a new paradigm of cooperation

No country can choose its neighbours, and a distant relative may not be as helpful as a near neighbour. China and India should not seek cooperation from afar with a ready partner at hand.

Since the dawn of the 21st century, progress in our cooperation has brought tangible benefits to our two peoples. At present, China and India both face the heavy tasks of developing the economy, improving people’s lives and reinvigorating the country. In seeking good-neighbourly relations and common development, we will not just benefit our own peoples, but also create new opportunities for other Asian countries.

Peaceful coexistence between our two major developing countries will be of global significance

Sixty years ago, China and India jointly initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which have become basic norms governing international relations. Our two countries both pursue an independent foreign policy and a win-win strategy of opening-up. We both stand for a multi-polar world and diversity of civilizations.

We attach great importance to each other’s playing a greater and constructive role in regional and international affairs. Closer coordination and cooperation between China and India will help to safeguard our interests and, more importantly, enhance the influence of developing countries and emerging markets and promote fairness and justice in the global community.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since the launch of reform and opening-up more than 30 years ago, China has enjoyed continuous economic growth and social progress and delivered increasingly better lives to the people. Nevertheless, China remains a developing country whose per capita GDP has just reached the level of middle-income countries and where significant gaps exist between urban and rural areas as well as different regions in China.

We still have a long way to go before completing the building of a modern country. We therefore need to devote all our energy to running our own affairs well. To upgrade the Chinese economy, we will implement the strategies of boosting domestic demand, seeking innovation-driven development and realizing economic transformation and pay more attention to improving people’s lives and raising the quality of development.

We will adhere to the basic direction of pursuing market-oriented reforms, adopt a more proactive strategy of opening-up, arouse the creativity of the whole society and create greater impetus for self-generated development.

Very importantly, we will promote the development of China’s western region through the country’s westward opening by building special economic zones, pilot open-development zones and gateways. This will not just boost the development of China’s western region, but also create more opportunities for China’s immediate neighbourhood.

China owes its development and progress in the last 30 years and more to the path of peaceful development. To achieve more development, we will remain firmly committed to this path. Both now and in the future, we will always be a staunch defender of world peace.

One deep insight that we have drawn from our own history is not to do unto others what we would not want others to do unto us. As a member of the Asian family, China will continue to stand firm for peace and stability in Asia. We would like to work with India and other South Asian countries to play our due role for regional peace and development, so that the Asian continent that both China and India belong to will be a land of peace, development and cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China is committed to the strategy of developing friendly relations with India. I have made India the first stop of my first overseas visit as China’s premier to demonstrate the high importance the Chinese government attaches to India. During this visit, I have felt the sincere wish of the government and people of India to deepen friendship and intensify cooperation with China. 

Political trust is the precondition for friendship and cooperation. Mahatma Gandhi once observed that China and India are fellow travelers sharing weal and woe in a common journey. China and India should forge lasting friendship and be sincere friends. This is the general direction we must stick to. Admittedly, due to our different histories, cultures and social systems, there are inevitably some problems in our relationship.

But a few clouds in the sky cannot shut out the brilliant sunrays of our friendship. The two sides should always proceed from the strategic and overall interests in developing the bilateral relations. We should always remember that we are not a threat to each other, nor will we ever contain each other; instead, we stand as each other’s cooperation partner and development opportunity.

We should maintain frequent high-level exchanges and encourage more interactions between governments, including at the sub-national level, and between legislatures and political parties in order to enhance mutual understanding, dispel misgivings and solidify the foundation of our strategic and political trust.

Practical cooperation offers the greatest potential in boosting bilateral relations. Our two-way trade, totaling $66.5 billion in 2012, is still incompatible with the development level and size of the two economies. We must strive for dynamic balance in our trade in the course of expanding business cooperation.

Both China and India have adopted the 12th five-year plan. We should connect China’s westward opening-up strategy with India’s Look East policy. The two sides should step up cooperation in a wide range of areas, including IT, energy and resources, infrastructure, science and technology and agriculture, with a view to expanding our bilateral trade still further. China wishes to launch negotiations with India on a China-India regional trading arrangement. We will work with India to oppose protectionism to help create conditions for greater cooperation.

There has been an endless flow of cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and India. The towering and meandering mountains cannot stop people of the two countries from admiring each other’s splendid culture.

A late professor in PekingUniversity had devoted his entire life to the study and promotion of ancient Indian culture. In fact, he had spent a decade translating Ramayana into Chinese. In recognition of his many contributions, the President of India awarded him the Padma Bhushan.

Today, Indian songs, dances and yoga are very popular in China, while Chinese food andkung fu are well liked in India. We should encourage more cooperation at all levels in such areas as people-to-people exchange, culture and media to cement public support, especially the support of the young people, for good bilateral relations so that our friendship will be handed down from generation to generation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In its 70-year history, the ICWA has conducted productive studies on international issues and diplomacy. China regards India as an important partner in international affairs. Without cooperation and common development between China and India, there will not be a strong Asia or a better future for the world.

We understand and support India’s aspirations to play a greater role in the United Nations, including in its Security Council. The two sides should continue to coordinate positions and uphold the common interests of developing countries in the UN, G20, BRICS and other mechanisms. When China and India speak with one voice, the world will listen.

Nature has placed the people of China and India each on one side of the Himalayas, yet the mountain itself stands as an integral whole. From the foot of either side, one could not see the whole mountain range. What we need is a handshake across the Himalayas. And we need to stand higher and see the larger picture.

I am convinced that as long as we do so, look far into the future and work together, we will create a bright future of development and prosperity for our two countries, Asia and the world at large!

Thank you!

Image: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang gestures as he addresses a gathering during a business summit in Mumbai on Tuesday

Photograph: Danish Sidique/Reuters

 

Li Keqiang