In a clear display of China's eagerness to step up bilateral trade and economic cooperation with India, visiting Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji on Wednesday invited Indian businesses to explore opportunities in the promising Chinese market and also pledged to encourage more Chinese enterprises to invest in India.
"We sincerely hope that friends from the Indian business community will explore business opportunities in China. At the same time, we will continue to encourage Chinese enterprises to invest and set up factories in India," Zhu, the first Chinese Premier to visit India in 11 years, said at a luncheon hosted by local industrial and business community in Mumbai, India's largest city and economic powerhouse.
The Premier, who is on a five-day official visit to India, has already had meetings and talks with India's top leadership including President K R Narayanan and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his two-day stay in New Delhi. Both sides have stressed the necessity of greater economic and trade cooperation.
In his speech at the Mumbai luncheon, Zhu announced that in the coming five years, China will import equipment, technology and products worth a total of 1.4 trillion U.S. dollars, providing more business opportunities for other Asian countries, particularly China's surrounding countries like India.
Neighboring countries of China will also "benefit directly" from the implementation of China's strategy to develop its vast western regions and its "go global" strategy as well, he noted.
In order to increase personnel exchanges and trade and business cooperation, the Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines will launch regular flights from Beijing to Delhi from March 28 this year, establishing direct air links between the two countries, Zhu announced "with great pleasure."
In a clear display of development, the Chinese Premier said he was "fully confident" that the Chinese economy would "advance on a larger scale and to a higher level" at the beginning of the new century.
Claiming that China will continue with its "sustained, rapid and sound growth," Zhu said that China would attain its objective of increasing Gross Domestic Product by 7 percent annually during the 10th Five-Year Plan period from 2001 to 2005.
China will also "open still wider" to the rest of the world andprovide better conditions for overseas investors, the premier said.
China, which joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) late last year, will "abide by WTO rules in good faith" and "honor its commitments made upon the WTO accession," he promised, adding that China's economic system and market environment will also be further improved.
Describing the current level of cooperation between China and India as "by no means commensurate with both countries' strength and status," the Chinese Premier made a three-point proposal on how to bring bilateral cooperation to a new high. This includes stepping up exchanges to enhance mutual understanding,exploiting the complementarity of the two economies to help each other, and " looking to the future" while expanding cooperation.
Elaborating on the "marked complementarity" in Chinese and Indian economies, Zhu said that China has an edge in mechanical and electrical products, textile and light industries and also in engineering and construction, while India is developing very fast in software and other fields. There is also a lot for both sides to do in commodity trade, technological exchange,resources development, project contracting and other fields, he added.
He went on to suggest that the seventh session of the China-India Joint Group on Economic Relations and Trade, Science and Technology be held as soon as possible so as to work out the details for economic cooperation and trade in the period to come."A stable and consolidated China-India relationship will give greater hope to the solidarity, stability and prosperity of Asia. I have full confidence in the development of Sino-Indian relations," the Chinese Premier concluded.
(Xinhua News Agency January 16, 2002)