After a day-long meeting with various sub-groups discussing collaboration in the railways, specially the high speed trains, water and energy, the high power delegation led by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia had an hour-long meeting with Wen. It was supposed to be a half-an-hour meet, but it went for an hour during which Wen has proposed that the strategic economic dialogue scope should be expanded to include dialogue on collaboration in international forums like WTO, G-20 and Climate Change as well as in the financial sector.
The Chinese Premier also spoke of India's capabilities in I-T and pharmaceuticals and talked about creating an investor friendly environment. "It was a productive meeting" to set the tone for collaboration in a number of different economic areas, Ahluwalia told the Indian media. "We have nationally different perspectives here and there, but bottom line is that we have common interests. We should not look at India China in a static context but a dynamic context," he said, adding that China was set to become the largest economy in the next 20 years while India poised to become third largest.
The bonhomie at the meeting created a different setting between the two countries which last week had exchanged strong statements over India's plans to take part in oil exploration in the Vietnamese blocks in the South China Sea. The Chinese delegation was led by Zhang Ping, Chairman, National Development and Reform Commission, a Chinese equivalent for Planning Commission.
The highlight of the talks was India's push for collaboration in the field of railways, especially China's high speed trains which hit the headlines recently.
Ahluwalia said if India looks to grow at five per cent GDP the present rail infrastructure is fine, but if it wants to grow by nine per cent, then it very much needed the high speed rail networks.
Vinay Mittal, chairman of the railway board, who attended special meetings, said contrary to the view in India high speed tracks need far less land than perceived. He said high speed trains were feasible and necessary for India, especially for the freight corridors and discussions centered on China's massive expansion in this area.
China handled over 3,600 million tonnes for freight to India's 900 million, Mittal said, adding that such rail infrastructure would reduce carbon imprints as well. The two sides also discussed the water-related issue. Though the discussions centered around technical issues, Ahluwalia briefly touched upon India's interest in increasing cooperation over inter-state rivers originating from Tibet.
"I take this opportunity to also record our appreciation for the hydrological data that the Chinese Government provides us on the Brahmaputra and Satluj rivers during flood season," he said. "It would be very good to build further on this tradition of cooperation. This should be a subject that unites us rather than divides us," he said in his opening remarks. Indian officials said the discussions mainly centered on pricing system of water in urban and rural areas, technology issues relating to water supply systems in cities, water saving technologies and irrigation.
India and China reached an understanding to deepen bilateral investment cooperation, further opening markets and improve their investment environment. The two sides have agreed to stay committed to deepen bilateral investment cooperation, further opening of markets, and improving investment environment in both counties, minutes circulated at the end of first session said.
The two sides also agreed to strengthen cooperation on energy efficiency and conservation as well as on environmental protection. They also agreed to actively develop cooperation in energy matters, including in the renewable energy sector, in order to promote sustainable development. Enhanced exchanges in these spheres would be the new engine for greater cooperation between the two sides, the minutes said.