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Xiís visit to bolster Sino-India trade ties
KV Prasad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 14
Bilateral relations between India and China are expected to improve with the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping. He will be on his maiden visit to the country after assuming office last year.

Over the years, both countries demonstrated willingness to expand economic and trade ties at a faster clip while tackling the vexatious border issue at its own pace.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval last week predicted that Sino-India ties were poised for an "orbital jump".

The NSA, who was in Beijing last week for a preparatory meeting ahead of President Xi's September 17-19 visit, said strong leadership in New Delhi and Beijing was capable of taking the talks on the boundary issue forward. The bilateral meeting in Delhi is scheduled for Thursday.

The Chinese President is scheduled to arrive in Ahmadabad, sending a signal of the continuity in relationship between Gujarat that received the bulk of China's $ 400 million investments in India, after being wooed by Modi as the CM of the state. In June, China's Tebian Electric Apparatus Stock Co launched a $ 200 million TEBA Energy (India), a green energy park at Karjan close to Vadodara as part of the state government's effort to attract investments from the country.

In 2011, as Gujarat CM, Modi led a delegation of industrialists to China exploring avenues to attract investments. Former Chinese Ambassador to India Wei Wei in June suggested that both Beijing and New Delhi should strengthen cooperation in infrastructure, construction and manufacturing industry park. Modi and Xi have had the opportunity to exchange notes on the sidelines of BRICS Summit earlier this year. The Chinese President reaches the Indian shores soon after the high-profile visit of Prime Minister Modi to Japan amid speculation that investments offer from Beijing could outmatch Tokyo's $ 35 billion pledge over five years.

Officials in the Ministry of External Affairs, familiar with discussions, maintained that the thrust of the current visit would be economy and industrial parks, with China expected to announce US $ 5 billion investment in setting up two such parks, one each in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

One of the themes includes creating service centres for Chinese power equipment used by Indian operators. The issued had figured during the October 2013 visit of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Beijing. India had then offered China to modernise railway stations, while Beijing is keen to offer its expertise on railway infrastructure, including high-speed trains.

Recently, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the visit will bring about a "directional change" to the six-decade New Delhi-Beijing relations while reiterating India's stand that the widening trade deficit with China was indeed "worrying". The bilateral trade between the two Asian neighbours stood at $65.85 billion in 2013-14 with a deficit of around $35 billion.

Besides, there is a possibility of a movement on India's request to China for opening additional routes to Kailash Mansarover. Beijing has been citing difficulty in opening alternative routes, including longer travel on its side through difficult terrain, poor roads, and lack of proper infrastructure.

$5 bn push in offing

  • China is expected to announce US $ 5 billion investment for setting up industrial parks in Gujarat and Maharashtra
  • It is likely to create service centres for Chinese power equipment used by Indian operators
  • Beijing is keen to offer its expertise on railway infrastructure, including high-speed trains

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