India, China can take ties to new heights, says Li wooing Indian business

New Delhi/Mumbai, May 21 (IANS) Assuring Indian business more access to Chinese markets and also to narrow the wide trade gap, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Tuesday said China and India can take their ties to “new heights of strategic growth” as he interacted with Indian business leaders in Delhi and Mumbai on the last day of his India tour.

Addressing an event organized by business house FICCI and the Indian Council of World Affairs in New Delhi Tuesday morning, Li pushed for greater economic integration between the two Asian giants and combining the strengths of their 2.5 billion people to make an impact on the global scene.

He touched on the boundary question, saying both countries “have the wisdom” to find a “fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution” to the issue.

“I am confident we have the ability to mitigate India’s trade imbalance,” he assured, adding that “dynamism in trade balance is sustainable”.

Impressing his audience with his informal manner and interesting quotes, Li said though there are differences between the two nations, “their shared interests outweigh the differences”. Their bilateral ties had reached such maturity that “clouds cannot send out the brilliant sun of their relationship”.

Li won over his elite audience with the traditional Indian greeting of ‘Namaste’ at the start of his address.

Reiterating his philosophy of the handshake across the Himalayas, Li said India and China not only need to shake hands but “stand at a higher level (from the Himalayas) to get a bird’s eye view” of their ties.

Stressing the need to combine the complementarities of their two markets, Li said if every one of their 2.5 billion people purchases a mobile phone, “it would blow up the order list of the mobile companies”.

During his meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee, Li assured that China sees India as a strategic partner and believes there is great potential for improved bilateral relations and Beijing would do nothing to harm India’s interests.

In Mumbai, he visited the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) global development centre in suburban Goregaon East and was hosted by Tata Group chairman Cyrus P. Mistry. TCS is the first Indian software company to set up shop in China and is growing significantly there.

“We are proud to be associated with the Tata Group which has a rich legacy with its visionary founder also having worked in Shanghai over a century ago,” said Li.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who called on him said his state is willing to set up a special investment zone for Chinese companies in the state.

Chavan briefed Li about the immense investment opportunities across various sectors, including automobiles and textiles, in Maharashtra.

Later, addressing a business summit organised by CII, Assocham and FICCI, Li said both China and India “can make a new miracle”.

“As China and India grow, it will lead to a strong Asia, South Asia and the world. Although at present China is trade surplus, we want to have a balanced growth,” he told the audience, stresssing that both were committed to reach $100 bn bilateral trade.

“I really wonder that despite one billion population of each country and emerging markets, the combined trade is below $70 billion,” he remarked and invited Indian companies to China and vice versa.

He mentioned the services of Dwarkanath Kotnis, a young Indian doctor who treated the wounded and plague-stricken Chinese soldiers during the Sino-Japanese war of 1930s and whose family he met earlier at the Taj hotel in Mumbai.

“The market has the magical power and business people can make things happen,” he said, adding the key to increasing trade and investment between the two countries lies with the business people.

Li identified information technology, agriculture and pharmaceuticals as India’s strengths and added that China also has its own strengths.

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