China-India Relations and the Way Forward--Remarks by Ambassador Le Yucheng
2015/12/12

China-India Relations and the Way Forward

Remarks by Ambassador Le Yucheng

At the Army War College

Mhow, 9 December 2015

 

Lt.General Narasimhan,

Dear cadres and friends,

  It gives me great pleasure to come to Army War College. Your college is known as a place “where tigers earn their stripes” and I am glad to meet

so many “tigers” and future generals. As far as I know, I am the first Chinese ambassador in India to give talks in a military college. And it’

s actually my second such interaction; the first was in National Defense College in Delhi this April. The fact in itself speaks volume about the

distance China-India relations have traveled. Because even a year or two ago, it was hard to envisage an Indian military college inviting Chinese

ambassador to talk, and perhaps equally hard for the latter to accept. But now such interaction has become a regular occurrence, I promised

National Defense College to give a lecture every year during my term here, and I’d like to make the same commitment to you today.

  This example is but a little drop of water in the reservoir of friendly exchanges between our two countries, yet it reflects some significant

changes in our relations. Since I’m now in an Army College, let me start with mil-to-mil relations. The past year saw frequent interactions and

enhanced mutual trust between our militaries. A number of senior Chinese military officials have visited India, including General Zhang Youxia,

director of the General Armament Department, General Liu Yuan, political commissar of the General Logistics Department, and the commanders of

Chengdu military region and Tibet military region. A destroyer Chinese Navy(Jinan) docked at Mumbai harbor. The two militaries conducted the fifth

joint exercise named “Hand-in-Hand 2015” in Yunnan Province this year. Indian Lieutenant General DS Hooda, General Officer Commanding in Chief

of Northern Command, will soon visit China, the first visit by an Indian army commander. The culmination of mil-to-mil exchanges was the visit by

Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, General Fan Changlong, the highest ranking Chinese military official to ever visit India in

ten years. During his visit, General Fan met with PM Modi, Defense Minister Parrikar and other senior officials, and had a good discussion on

advancing military ties.

  Military relationship is an epitome of the overall China-India relationship, which is as strategic as it is wide-ranging. The wheels of change

are moving and we now stand at a new starting point. The momentous progress is first of all attributable to the commitment of our leaders. Over

the past year, President Xi Jinping and PM Modi met 5 times, including their mutual visits. The evident chemistry between our leaders has

generated growing passion for each other from both societies.

  Despite the flagging global economy and sluggish trade, China-India business cooperation is rowing upstream with stronger momentum and higher

speed. Chinese accumulative investment in India almost tripled to $2.7 billion this year. Industrial cooperation is gaining traction, with

industrial parks, smart cities programs and railway cooperation in full swing. Chinese brands have become household names in India, like Wanda,

Xiaomi, Alibaba, Lenovo, and Vivo, just to name a few. Chinese real estate giant Wanda plans invest US$10 billion to build a township in

Kharkhoda. Earlier this year, tens of thousands of Xiaomi fans queued up for Mi4i India launch, the company’s first smart phone model launched

outside China and tailor-made for the Indian market, as the name speaks for itself: Mi for India. Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce platform, has

4.5 million on-line vendors in India, more than 1\10 of its global total of 40 million, and it plans to increase its presence in Indian to 10

million in a few years. In another boost for Make in India, Lenovo has started local manufacturing of its smart phones in Chennai. All these point

to the huge potential in our cooperation as the stream of investment and trade keeps flowing.

  Local cooperation is booming. During PM Modi’s visit to China, the first Local Leaders Forum was held, and since then many mutual visits were

made by Chief Ministers, governors and local leaders of both countries, including the reciprocate visit by the CM of Maharashtra and the vice

governor of Shandong province. Both being populous, coastal, industrial states on the fast track of development, Maharashtra and Shandong are

natural and willing partners. We are witnessing a wave of Indian states vying for Chinese investment with various incentives. With more visits

comes greater business opportunities, for instance, during Guangdong Governor Zhu Xiaodan’s visit to Gujurat, MOUs worth of US$590 million were

signed.

  Of course, we are not just bound by common interests; our relationship is written in the pages of history, the footprints of culture, and the

ties of friendship. The story of the 7th century eminent monk scholar Xuanzang’s pilgrimage to India is well-known. In addition to translating

and promoting Buddhist classics in China, he wrote detailed, accurate and kaleidoscopic logs about India’s architecture, archeology, geography,

etc. Carrying on the millennium-old kinship, we are writing new chapters of friendly exchanges every day. The opening of Nathula Pass early this

year is another milestone that helps more Indian yatris to realize their life-long dream of pilgrim to Kailash Manasarovar. India launched e-visa

for Chinese tourists, a move that has and will significantly boost tourism and people-to-people exchanges. This year, 300,000 Chinese tourists

have visited India. Many touching stories of amity and mutual help have emerged, such as the Chinese volunteer donating HSCs to an Indian boy and

an Indian lady sending back a lost suitcase with passport and wallet of a Chinese tourist. What’s behind these stories is the narrowing

familiarity gap in the two societies. In the past, if a Chinese wants to travel to India, his friends would probably think he’s crazy, but now

Incredible India is fast becoming a favored and fashionable destination for Chinese tourists.

 

  Dear cadres,

 

  The momentous progress in China-India relations is by no means coincident. Rather, it’s a natural outcome of the development in both countries

and the global configuration.

  After 30 years of reform and opening up, China has become the world’s second largest economy, contributing 30% to global growth over the years.

While pursuing our own development, we believe in the concept of sharing. As an ancient Chinese poem reads, a single flower does not make spring,

while a hundred flowers in full blossom bring spring to the garden. Asia is where the world’s currents merge, diversity converges, ideas meet,

and aspirations gather wings, it is our home, our garden. We hope to see spring in the garden by opening up wider and sharing development

opportunities with all. That’s why China initiates the “land and maritime silk road” to bring the neighborhood closer and bring more benefits

to the people. Many countries have understood, endorsed and participated in this initiative.

  India is soaring, with geographic edge, demographic dividend, a huge market and advanced IT and service sectors. In particular, as the government

rolls out ambitious programs such as smart city and Make in India, and introduces opening-up and pro-business policy measure, it spells great

opportunities for our two countries to align our strategies, complement each other and substantiate cooperation. As the biggest developing

countries, close neighbors and fellow members of BRICS and G20, we are well attuned to each other and have so much in common. We must come

together to realize the promise of this century. In the spirit of togetherness, we will realize our dreams of national renewal. That, in the final

analysis, is the ultimate driving force for closer China-India relations.

  A look at the globe gives us ample cause for concern. The world today is beset by a galaxy of problems: a roller-coaster economy, turmoil in the

Middle East, rampant terrorism, drug trafficking, the list goes on and on. Though world war III may be far-fetched, people’s concern for peace

and security is no less and the challenges we face are no less serious. The question on everybody’s mind is what should we do? In the face of

such challenges that know no borders, no one is immune. China and India obviously can not stay unscathed and we must confront the challenges

together.

  As ancient civilizations, China and India can and must draw wisdom from our rich history and philosophy, provide new vision to meet the challenges

of the day, and work to enrich and improve global governance. Our cooperation on the global stage matters. And that is a strong impetus for closer

China-India relations.

 

  Dear cadres,

 

  Measured against the past, China-India relations have come a long way. But measured against the future, there is still a long way to go. Some

simple statistics will show that our cooperation level is still behind many others countries, and falls way short of its true potential.

  Since I was Chinese ambassador to Kazakhstan before coming to India, let me first quote some familiar figures. Kazakhstan only has a population of

17 million, yet its industrial cooperation with China is booming, attracting Chinese investment of US$ 30 billion a year. While China and India,

with a total GDP of 12 trillion US dollars, have a two-way trade of only 70 billion US dollars, or 0.6 percent of the total GDP, and accumulative

investment of merely US$ 2.7 billion.

  Take another neighbor, ROK, as an example. There are over 1000 flights traveling between China and ROK every week, and only 40 between China and

India. ROK has 50 million people, and the annual mutual visits between China and ROK is 10 million.

  China has 90 inter-governmental mechanisms with the US, and only 24 with India, 214 pairs of sister states/cities with the US, and only 10 with

India.

  The meeting of hearts and minds is strong glue that holds countries and peoples together. Just imagine, if only 1%, or even 0.1% our 250 crore

people visit each other, what an impact it will have, not just on tourism, but also in boosting mutual understanding and the bond of friendship.

As China scales up industrial cooperation and as more and more Chinese travel overseas, India, as a close and friendly neighbor, will surely

benefit. Let me make some bold predictions: in the coming years, our trade may well hit US$200 billion, mutual investment reach US$ 40 billion,

and personnel exchanges top 5 million. I believe these targets are within horizon, but to hit the targets, we must work hard and keep at it.

  First, we must reach out more and further address the familiarity gap. Next year is the “visit China year” in India, and tourism is the best way

to promote mutual visit and mutual understanding. To facilitate personnel exchanges, we can open more direct flights and enhance connectivity,

both hardware and software. In this connection, we can encourage more exchanges between think tanks and media. Co-production of films is a good

beginning. The three joint films on Xuanzang, Kongfu Yoga and Journey to India, have started shooting, and I can’t wait to see.

  Second, we must boost all-round cooperation, especially industrial cooperation. China is ready to participate in “Make in India” by building

more joint industrial parks, incubation centers and manufacturing bases. With mature technology and rich experience, China can join Indian

counterparts in building railway, highway, ports and smart city projects. The heavy pollution in both Delhi in Beijing is sounding the alarm that

we must do more the protect the environment while growing the economy. And we hope to do join R&D and share applicable technologies with India.

  Third, we must step up military exchanges. Next year, we will be welcoming Indian Defense Minister and Army Chief of Staff to China, and a number

of Chinese senior military officers are set to visit India. I hope next time I’m in your college, I will see some young Chinese officers. You are

all rising stars and generals in the making, the future of our countries’ security and cooperation very much hinges upon you. I hope you will

learn more about China, visit China, meet military officials and young cadres there, and make friends with them. When you are on good terms, our

two countries are more likely to be on good terms and our stability and security will be on a more solid footing.

  Fourth, we must proper manage differences. It’s only natural that countries do not see eye to eye on every issue, not to mention two big

countries like China and India. The point is to keep a lid on the problems so that they do not affect or even undermine the overall relationship.

We also have a lot of differences with the US, but our cooperation is still moving forward, instead of backward, despite the differences. The key

is to engage constructively across the complexity of our relationship.

  For us, India is a friend whom we have known for millennia. We have been together at many crossroads of time, and struggled together at the dawn

of freedom. We wish to share joy and success in the future and remain friends till the end of time.

  Let’s rise to the occasion, because there is no time like the present.

  Thank you!

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