Coming to China is like ahomecoming
It is an honour for me to represent my country as Ambassador toChina since January 2014. It is particularly a privilege for me as I have beenassociated with China since the start of my diplomatic career. I studied Chineseat Nanyang University in Singapore in 1979-81, and thereafter, I served in theIndian Embassy in Beijing from 1981 until 1985. I was also the Consul Generalof India in Hong Kong. I have dealt with China at our Ministry of ExternalAffairs in New Delhi in different capacities, including as the Director Generaldealing with East Asia. Thus, a good part of my career has been devoted toChina. So, in a sense, this is a homecoming for me.
I have always thought of China as a fascinating country withmany interesting facets. I am always struck by the many cultural areas we sharein common as two large ancient civilizations as well as two emerging economies.I have been privileged to witness the remarkable transformation taking place inthis country for over three decades now.
2013 was a very successful period in our bilateral relationshipand we call it the “Year of Harvest.” When I came to China in January 2014, myjob was clear-cut – to develop India-China ties into an example of neighbors inpeace, emerging economies in collaboration and vibrant societies with uniquecivilizational ethos actively engaging and interacting with each other.
The year 2014 was the Year of Friendly Exchanges. In this year,our relationship was enriched by a series of high level visits, including thatby the Vice President of India to China. The state visit of President XiJinping to India was a high watermark for our engagement and took our exchangesto a new trajectory of cooperation. The new Government in India, led by Prime MinisterMr Narendra Modi, has also accorded the highest priority to bilateralrelations. In fact, Prime Minister Modi and President Xi have already met threetimes in the last six months, and PM Modi has also met with Premier Li Keqiangin Myanmar. We have strengthened our relationship in all areas, including atthe political, economic and cultural levels. Our two countries have added newsubstance to our strategic and cooperative partnership.
We are also looking at broad-basing our economicpartnership and are encouraging two-way flows of investments. Several new areasof cooperation emerged during President Xi’s visit to India, including inrailways and industrial parks. We have agreed on several other initiatives suchas cooperation in the fields of smart cities, space, and civil nuclearenergy. We have enhanced exchanges in the defence field at alllevels. We have successfully concluded the “Hand-in-hand” jointcounter-terrorism exercises in November.
People-to-people contacts are making notable progress. Wehave had vibrant cultural exchanges in this year, with the Embassy organizingthe Glimpses of India Festival in 14 cities of China. Besides, India and Chinaare also cooperating with each other in the multilateral context. One example Ican give you in this regard is the decision to establish the BRICS-led NewDevelopment Bank.
When I look back at the year that has just gone by, I do feel asense of satisfaction. I am also encouraged by these accomplishments to planahead for an even more successful year in 2015. We expect Prime MinisterModi to visit China this year.
My first assignment in China was in the early years of reformand opening up. Since then, I have had the opportunity to look at China indifferent stages of development. Today, China has grown tremendously, becomingthe second largest economy in the world. We in India have tremendous admirationfor the way China has developed. We are also in the process of striving fordevelopment and improving our people’s livelihood. We believe that we can drawimportant lessons from China’s development. China’s growth provides anopportunity for us and vice versa.
We would like to utilize the synergies that exist between ourtwo countries. Let me illustrate this point. Chinese companies have comparativeadvantage in the areas of infrastructure and manufacturing. In India, thegovernment believes that infrastructure and manufacturing have to be the majorfocus for the country to develop. The government led by Prime Minister Modi haslaunched the “Make in India” campaign to invite foreign investment. We believethat Chinese companies can make use of this opportunity and invest in India,both for our large domestic market and for exports, thus resulting in a win-winsituation for both our countries.
I have had the opportunity to travel fairly extensively withinChina. China is a vast country with every region possessing some uniquecharacteristics. For instance, I had the opportunity to visit Dunhuangrecently. The rich heritage of cultural contacts between India and China overthe past 2000 years was vividly visible in Dunhuang. I have also noticed duringmy travels that there is deep interest about India in China and a genuinedesire to know more about my country. However, despite this, the number ofChinese traveling to India is miniscule. The number of Indians traveling toChina is also not up to the potential. Recognizing this, we will be launchingthe Visit India Year in China and the Embassy of India in China is planning tohold a series of activities, not only in Beijing but also in different parts ofChina, to introduce India to our Chinese friends and promote tourism from Chinato India. India and China are ancient civilizations and have a long history ofexchanges and interactions. Thus, one of my priorities as the Ambassador is tobring these two great civilizations closer together.