A day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China, the Union Cabinet on 13 May discussed signing an agreement with China to give boost to tourism. “One of the agenda discussed was building tourism relationship with China,” said top government sources.
Ahead of Modi’s China visit, India has protested the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that runs through Indian territory in POK.
India had protested through diplomatic channels at Chienese Embassy in New Delhi, while Indian Ambassador to China Ashok Kantha took up the matter with the Chinese foreign ministry.
This is the first time New Delhi has shown its discomfiture with Beijing’s infrastructure initiative across Pakistan, foreign secretary S Jaishankar said.
Modi lands in Xian on May 14 where he and Xi Jinping will hold summit meetings. Xi, it is believed, will show Modi around historical sites like the Wild Goose Pagoda. Xian was the start of the Silk Route and Xi’s ancestral hometown.
Industrialists and CEOs, including Adani group chairman Gautam Adani and Vishal Sikka of Infosys, will be part of a high-level business delegation that will travel to China with Modi.
Others likely to be in the team include Sun Pharmaceuticals CMD Dilip Shanghvi, TCS CEO N Chandrasekaran, Reliance group Chairman Anil Ambani, Ashok Leyland MD R Seshasayee, Suzlon Energy chairperson Tulsi Tanti and HDFC Bank chief Aditya Puri and the like. Representatives of state-owned firms such as BHEL and BEML too would be going to China.
Some say Modi’s trip to China from May 14 to May 16 will help both sides. The logic that Modi shares a good rapport with China may give fuel to the fact that everything is going to be fine between the Asian neighbours. It is a known fact that Modi shared good relations with China when he was the chief minister of Gujarat. The comfort level between the duo was evident when Xi visited India last year. It was unusual for XI to make a stopover in Gujarat before going to New Delhi.
On May 15, Modi will be given a formal welcome in Beijing by Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, followed by official talks. Modi will address the Tsinghua University, inaugurate an Indian studies centre at Fudan University and also hold event for Indian expatriates in Shanghai.
However, conversations between Modi and Xi will be the real substance of the political discussions. The boundary dispute has defied resolution for decades. Both countries are pushing against an adversarial relationship.
Modi may push for greater services trade when he meets the Chinese President. The commerce department warned India’s trade deficit with China could double to $60 billion by 2016-17 if the duo don’t address certain constraints.
Nonetheless, the visit may yield some pacts in railways where India wants China to invest in developing infrastructure. But India is looking for more — the Sutlej and Brahmaputra-water data from China. India is particularly keen, while the Chinese less so.
India and China exchange floodwater data on these rivers, but India wants to see data on a regular basis. If this pact goes through it will be big, because this’ll give India an oversight on Chinese intentions.
China is pushing for a deal that uses scientific cooperation in Western Pacific and Indian Ocean to further its maritime presence. While this’d see more Chinese presence in Indian Ocean, it’s give India space in Western Pacific, which China considers its backyard.
India is getting ready to issue e-visas to Chinese tourists and businessmen, but is still cool to Xi Jinping’s signature initiative, One Belt One Road. “We’ve not had a detailed discussion on the subject,” Jaishankar said.
While India’s open to Chinese investment, Jaishankar said the issue was about China refusing market access to Indian companies. “We think China can import more from India. India is globally competitive, but not successful in China,” he said.