Remarks of H.E.Ambassador Zhang Yan at the Launch Ceremony of the India-China Center

(Pune, Maharashtra, 25 January 2012)

Dr. Mashelkor, Professor and President of Global Research Center,

Amb. Ronen Sen, Honorable Founding Chairman of Bridging Nations,

Dr. Prakash Ambegaonkar, CEO and founder of Bridging Nations

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s indeed an honor for me to attend this gathering to inaugurate the India-China Center in Pune. First of all, I would like to express my sincere congratulations to Dr. Prakash Ambegaonkar and his colleagues of Bridging Nations, who have made tireless efforts to prepare the ground work for the smooth launch of the center. I am pleased and very encouraged to see so many respected guests, including prominent experts, professors, and business people from Pune, attending the function tonight, which demonstrates the keen interests you have in China and India relations.

This is the second time for me to visit Pune. Last time I was here to participate in the inauguration of Sany Heavy Industry(India). This time, I came for this occasion at the time of Chinese Lunar New Year, the Spring Festival. According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2012 is the Year of Dragon. In Chinese culture, the Dragon represents power and strength. At this very auspicious moment, I wish all of you a very successful new year. And may the year of Dragon bring you good health, good luck and good future. I also want to express warm felicitations to Indian friends on your Republic Day, which will fall on tomorrow.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China and India are two great nations with ancient civilizations linked by mountains and rivers. Our friendly exchanges and amity can be traced back more than 2000 years ago. Two countries are mutually influenced and mutually inspired, which greatly enriched our respective civilization. The introduction of Buddhism from India into China is a vivid example of our cultural and intellectual interactions in the history. The founding of new China in 1949 and the independence of India in 1947 opened new era for our relationship. In the past 61 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations, China-India relations have summoned all challenges and made impressive progress. The era of “Hindi-Chini Bhai Bhai” has deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of the two peoples. The famous Panchsheel, the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence, co-initiated by China and India in 1950s, remains to be the important guiding principles in international relations. Although there were ups and downs in our relationship, mutual beneficial cooperation between China and India has been the main feature of our bilateral interaction in the past few decades. As Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said once that during more than 2000-year long history of exchange, 99.9 per cent of time two countries lived in peace and amity. As the great Indian poet Tagore noted that India feels that China is a very close relative.

China-India relations regained momentum after the historical visit to China by the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988. Entering into the 21st century, China-India relations moved into a fast track of development. In 2003 Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee visited China and the two sides agreed to establish a Long-term Constructive Partnership. During Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in 2005, two countries further upgraded their relationship into a Strategic and Cooperative Partnership for Peace and Prosperity. President Hu Jintao visited India in 2006 during which China and India developed a “Ten-pronged Strategy” to enhance bilateral relations. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited China in January 2008. Two sides signed A Shared Vision for the 21st Century of China and India and agreed to promote the building of a harmonious world of durable peace and common prosperity through further advancing China-India strategic and cooperative partnership. In 2010, Premier Wen Jiabao and Indian President Pratibha Patile exchanged visits. Two sides reaffirmed their commitments to the further advancement of bilateral relations and cooperation.

Thanks to the joint efforts of both sides, China-India relation is developing in an all round manner and has become one of the most important relations in the world today, acquiring global and strategic dimension and with following prominent features.

First, high level interactions have maintained strong momentum. As I have outlined before, the leaders of two countries have maintained frequent exchange of visits over the past few years. In addition to that, they also met each other during the international gatherings. Last year, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had a fruitful meeting during the BRICS Summit in China. In November 2011, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sideline of the East Asia Summit in Indonesia. Both sides reaffirmed their commitments to the furtherance of bilateral relations. Premier Wen Jiabao also met Indian Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia when he was attending the first ever China-India Strategic Economic Dialogue in Beijing. Early this year, Indian Prime Minister Manmahan Singh had a meeting with Chinese State Councillor, Mr. Dai Bingguo during the 15th Special Representative Meeting. Frequent exchanges of visits at high level have greatly enhanced the mutual trust and cooperation between two countries.

Second, the bilateral economic cooperation has witnessed a sustained growth. In the past 11 years, trade volume between two countries has increased more than 10 times. As two fast emerging countries, China and India has become the powerhouse of the world economy. Two economies have withstood the negative impact of the European debt crisis and American financial crisis, and maintained relatively robust growth. Last year, the bilateral trade of China and India has reached new height in spite of the global economic and financial crisis. The two-way trade exceeded 73 billion USD, with an increase more than 20 per cent. China has become one of the largest trade partners of India and India is also China’s largest trade partner in South Asia. In 2010, both sides agreed to set a new target of 100 billion USD for bilateral trade by the year 2015. Cooperation in the investment and financial sectors is also expanding rapidly. There are already more than 150 Indian companies have set up business in China and around 100 Chinese companies are operating in India. Quite few of them are located in Pune. And more Chinese companies have showed interests to invest in India. The largest Chinese bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China opened its first branch office in Mumbai last year, marking a new milestone in bilateral financial cooperation. The fast expanding economic cooperation has already yielded win-win results to both countries.

Thirdly, people-to-people and cultural exchanges have become a new highlight of bilateral relation. In 2010, two countries organized China Festival in Indian and India Festival in China during the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Last year was announced as the Year of China-India Exchange, during which a series of programs were organized in India. Experience China--Sichuan Week was successfully held last April. In September last year, a 500-member Indian youth delegation led by Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports of Indian visited China and they were warmly received by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in the Great Hall of the People. Besides acrobatic troupe of Yunan Province and art groups from China toured cities in India to showcase China’s rich traditional culture. The exchanges and cooperation between political parties, parliaments, thank-tanks and in the areas of defense, youth, media and education also witnessed fast expansion. These exchanges have greatly promoted the mutual understanding and friendship, enhancing mutual trust and mutual cooperation.

Fourth, China and India have maintained close consultation and coordination in the United Nations, World Trade organization, G-20 and BRICS, and on major international and regional issues such as the global financial and economic crisis, climate change, food and energy security, anti-terrorism as well as issues related to the situation in the west Asia and north Africa. China and India are enjoying growing convergence of interests and are committed to the building of a fair, just and reasonable international economic, financial and trade order. In the G-20 Financial Summit and the Conferences on Climate Change, China and India worked closely and constructively, and work jointly to safeguard the interests of the developing countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Looking ahead, I am optimistic about the future of China and India relation.

Chinese President Hu Jintao once said that India is an important neighbor of China. China is committed to the promotion of harmonious, neighborly and amicable cooperation between China and India. China is ready to work with the Indian side to maintain the sound momentum for development of the bilateral Strategic and Cooperative Partnership. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on his part, stated that the Indian Government will give top priority to its relations with China and is committed to advance bilateral cooperation in various fields on the basis of progress made in the past. The commitments of two leaderships have provided very solid political bases for the future advancement of bilateral relation.

In addition, our relation has become more substantive. As two largest developing countries, we are facing the common historical task. That is to develop our economy, eradicate poverty and improve the wellbeing of our people. Our economic interests have become more and more interrelated and broad. At the same time, we are encountering similar challenges and sharing growing common interests and similar positions on many international and regional issues.

Furthermore, our relation has become more matured. We are aware of the fact that there are differences and challenges left over by the history in our relationship. But we know much better how to manage them. Two countries are keenly aware that cooperation benefits both and confrontation only hurts each other. As two Asian neighbors and fast growing economies, China and India share more common interests than difference. We are partners for development as well as partners for prosperity. We should not let the historical burdens to stand in the way of our cooperation. China and India’s rising together is an irreversible historical trend that no force in the world can stop it.

Guided by the far-sightedness and strategic vision of the leaders of two countries, I am of the view that further development of friendship and cooperation between China and India is in the interest of two peoples. In the current global context, China and India should seize the opportunity and keep moving forward with an active and down-to earth attitude. To this end, I believe efforts shall be made in the following areas:

First, further enhance mutual trust. Mutual political trust is vital to a sound and steady growth of our bilateral relations. The two sides should continue the momentum of high-level visits between our leaders, further step up exchanges and cooperation between government departments, legislative bodies, political parties and local governments and make full use of the existing mechanisms, such as strategic dialogue, foreign policy consultation and defense and security dialogue, to enhance mutual trust and lay a solid political foundation for the furtherance of bilateral relations.

Second, deepen economic cooperation for win-win progress. With huge markets, rich human and other resources, China and India enjoy great potentials and complementarities in economic, financial and trade cooperation. Two countries should expand the scope of cooperation, upgrade trade quality, improve trade mix, and strive to meet the target set for 2015, which is US$100 billion. China and India should take effective measures to remove trade and investment barriers so as to foster a sound environment for the business communities of the two countries. Efforts should also be made to create a more favorable environment to facilitate two-way investments in a bigger way.

Third, enhance people-to-people exchanges and cement public support for our relations. Two countries should expand exchanges and cooperation in the fields of culture, education, science and technology, tourism, health and sports, and increase the friendly interactions between the academic communities and media sectors. More emphasis should be given to the exchange of youth, who are the future of our two countries.

Fourth, further strengthen cooperation in multilateral field. China and India shall remain as important partners to each other in regional and global affairs and work together to promote a multi-polar world and democratization of international relations. Two countries should continue to join efforts in meeting the challenges of climate change, financial crisis, and food and energy security, terrorism and work for the common good of international community.

Fifth, properly address each other’s concerns. We should respect and accommodate each other’s interests and concerns and appropriately manage the remaining issues through consultations and communication in a spirit of mutual understanding and mutual accommodation. An early settlement of the issues left over by the history serves the fundamental interests of both sides. The two countries shall follow the political parameters and guiding principles both agreed, strive to seek a fair and reasonable solution acceptable to both countries. Pending a final resolution, we shall not allow the differences stand in the way of our cooperation.

It is my believe that good-neighborly friendship, mutually beneficial cooperation and common development are not only a blessing to the 2.5 billion peoples of our two countries, but will have profound influence on the peace, stability and prosperity of Asia and the world as whole. As Indian Prime Minister said once, when India and China speak, the world listen. As the world is watching with great interests the development of China-India relation and as Asian countries have placed their hope on our two countries for uplifting of the region, China and India should work together for the early realization of Asian century.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

India-China Center is launched at the most optimum moment. It coincides with the arrival of the year of Dragon and also 10th anniversary of the founding of Bridging Nations. On top of that, the center is coming into being at the time when China and India relation is at the best and two countries are looking for further expansion of their mutually beneficial cooperation. Aimed at building bridges of understanding and trust among the world’s two largest neighbors, focused on fostering policy initiatives in India-China relation, the India-China Center can play invaluable and instrumental role in promoting better understanding, fostering friendship and strengthening cooperation between the people of two countries.

I hope the center will not only do the theoretical researches, but also undertake concrete projects and programs. I am happy to note that it has already included educational, cultural and language training programs as part of its future plan. At the same time, the center will promote exchanges for students, corporations, NGOs, academics and policy-makers. I think these are very practical and effective ways to build friendship and trust among the people of two countries. As Chinese Embassy, we are ready to work with you to achieve the objective.

Finally, I sincerely wish the India-China Center a great future ahead.

I Thank you all.

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