Opening remarks made by EAM the Press Briefing held for India Media at the Indian Embassy, Beijing- 09 February, 2012
· I have had a very productive and busyday meeting the entire spectrum of Chinese leadership handling foreign policyand national security issues.
· My discussions were broad ranging and encompassed several bilateral, multilateral and regional issues.
· I came with idea of engaging with my Chinese colleagues on how to take the relationship forward in 2012. This was the common theme in all my 4 meetings.
· India and China are two large developing countries which are also neighbours. Hence we have significant opportunities and challenges that we can address. I proposed that we designate 2012 as the‘Year of India-China Friendship and Cooperation’.
· I am happy to inform you that all my Chinese interlocutors readily responded positively to this suggestion. We havenow requested our officials to work out the modalities for implementation.
· In this context I have invited my counterpart Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to visit India so as to maintain momentum of high level interactions. He has gladly accepted. We hope it will be possible for him to visit India before the BRICS Summit in which President Hu Jintao will participate.
· On the bilateral front, we have discussed our growing trade relationship. We are confident in our reaching the goal of 100 billion US dollars by 2015. I have highlighted the need for initiating measures to balance our trade relations. The prowess of Indian companies in software and pharmaceuticals is well known. I expressed the hope that market access will be provided for them to grow in China. Similarly, investment from China in the infrastructure sector in India would be welcome.
· We also reviewed the ‘outstanding’issues in our bilateral relations and agreed that while we work to resolve them, we should not let them adversely affect our growing cooperation in other areas. Specifically, we have agreed that the newly established working mechanism for consultation and coordination in border affairs will have its first meeting at an early date.
· The need for increase in people-to-people interaction was strongly emphasized since the total number ofvisitors from our two countries with a combined population of more than 2 billion is less than a million.
· As our business and people-to-people interaction grow, there will also be issues which need to be attended too. One such instance relates to the two Indian traders who were illegally detained in Yiwu and are currently involved in resolving their commercial dispute with Chinese traders.
· This morning they met me and expressed a desire to clear their name and return to India as early as possible. I empathasized with them regarding their traumatic experience and have raised the matter with my Chinese counterpart. The Indian Mission will continue to provide all assistance in resolving the issue.
· As representatives of the two largest developing countries, we discussed a variety of global issues which have animpact on our development process. These include matters relating to cooperation in the G-20 fora, climate change negotiations, WTO discussions aswell as the impact of global economic crisis.
· We also had a very useful exchange of views on various matters relating to peace and security in Asia and the Middle East.
· In short, today has been for me a very satisfying day as it is the launch of a process of engagement with our Chinese friends regarding the way forward in 2012 across a variety of issues. The opening of the new Chancery is reflective of the growing positive trajectory ofour bilateral engagement with China. I go back with a clear understanding of how India and China intend to proceed ahead during the year. It was for me not only accomplishment of day’s work but also setting of the agenda for the yearahead.