For Peace and Friendship, Win-Win Cooperation and Common Development
New Delhi, 8 September 2008
Your Excellency Mr. Ashok Kumar, Acting Director-General of Indian Council of World Affairs,
Your Excellency Ambassador Vinod C. Khanna, Emeritus Fellow of the Institute of Chinese Studies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to meet you, friends from various sectors in India. I had the privilege of visiting your country in 1981. Now, 27 years later, I am pleased to be back in this beautiful country to experience the warm friendship of the Indian people toward the Chinese people, witness the tremendous changes that have taken place here and, above all, move forward China-India relations. During my visit to Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, I attended the inauguration ceremony of China’s consulate-general in Kolkata, reached agreement with the Governor and the Chief Minister on ways to deepen friendly and multi-faceted cooperation between China and West Bengal, and visited the Memorial Museum of the great Indian poet, Rabindranath Tagore. In New Delhi, I called upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and held talks with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. We had an in-depth exchange of views and reached broad agreement on ways to further implement the common understanding reached by leaders of both countries and deepen the China-India strategic and cooperative partnership as well as issues of mutual interest. As my visit is drawing to a close, I am happy to tell you that this has been a constructive and productive visit.
Being one of the world’s four major ancient civilizations, India is renowned for its long history, rich natural resources, diverse cultures and hard-working and talented people. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Rabindranath Tagore are but a few great Indian names that are still revered today. Since the beginning of the 21st century, with a fast growing economy and rising international standing, India, a major developing country, has become an emerging economy that captures the attention of the world. We applaud the great achievements of our friendly neighbor.
Friendly interactions between China and India have a history of more than two thousand years. Through exchanges and mutual learning, our two peoples have developed and enriched two great civilizations and made important contribution to human progress. The ancient Silk Road served as a bond of friendship linking the Chinese and Indian people, and the spread of Buddhism provided sustained impetus to our cultural exchanges. In the modern era, China and India supported and helped each other in our respective struggles for national independence and liberation, forging a profound friendship. In the 1950s, leaders of China and India jointly initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which have since been recognized far and wide as norms governing international relations.
Since the turn of the century, China-India relations have enjoyed sound momentum of all-round growth, thanks to our joint efforts. In recent years in particular, with the personal commitment and strong support of leaders of both countries, our relations have made new headway. During Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India in 2005, the two sides announced the establishment of a strategic and cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity. In 2006, President Hu Jintao paid a successful visit to India, during which the two sides issued a Joint Declaration and adopted a ten-pronged strategy to deepen this partnership. When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited China earlier this year, the two sides signed A Shared Vision for the 21st Century, taking the relationship to a new high.
Friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two countries have been expanding in such important fields as economy, trade, culture, tourism, defense and people-to-people contact. Last year, our two-way trade volume reached 38.6 billion US dollars. In the first seven months of this year, it amounted to 33.5 billion US dollars, up by 63.8% from the corresponding period of last year. In 2006 and 2007, we successfully organized the “China-India Friendship Year” and the “China-India Year of Friendship through Tourism” respectively. Youth delegations composed of about 100 people each have exchanged visits several times. This year, India opened a consulate-general in Guangzhou and China opened a consulate-general in Kolkata. There are now over 40 direct flights between the two countries each week. What is more, we conducted our first defense dialogue and the first joint counter-terrorism exercise between Chinese and Indian armies last year. All in all, China-India relations are as good as they have ever been and face an important opportunity for further growth.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Twenty years ago, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi visited China. His visit opened a new chapter in the relations between our two great nations. It was during that visit that Mr. Deng Xiaoping, the chief architect of China’s reform and opening-up program, said to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, “Under the present favorable and peaceful international circumstances, China and India have a common responsibility to mankind – to develop. … If China and India are developed, we can say we have made our contributions to mankind.” Reviewing these incisive words today, we cannot but admire the foresight and vision with which our leaders ushered in a new era in our bilateral relations.
The world today is undergoing tremendous changes and adjustments. Peace and development remain the main themes of our time. Progress towards a multi-polar world is irreversible, economic globalization is developing in depth, and countries are increasingly interdependent. At the same time, the world is far from tranquil. Local conflicts and hotspot issues keep cropping up, traditional and nontraditional security threats are intertwined, and risks are looming large on the global economic horizon. Mankind faces both major opportunities as well as serious challenges.
China and India are the two biggest developing countries in the world. We have a combined population of 2.5 billion, 40% of the world’s total. A China-India relationship featuring peace, friendship, win-win cooperation and common development not only serves the fundamental interests of our two countries and peoples, but also contributes to global peace and development. It will make a profound impact on Asia and the whole world. That is why we say that China-India relations have moved beyond the bilateral context and assumed global and strategic significance.
Both China and India are focusing on development, which requires a peaceful and stable regional and international environment. There is no conflict of fundamental interests between China and India. What we have are broad common interests. We are partners, not rivals. There is a lot that we can do together to further our friendship and cooperation. We should view and approach our relations from a strategic and long-term perspective and keep moving forward our partnership in the new century to the benefit of our two countries and peoples. To this end, I believe we need to step up efforts in the following areas:
First, increase exchanges and enhance strategic mutual trust. Regular meetings and intensified consultation and coordination between our leaders are vital to the sound and steady growth of our bilateral relations. Premier Wen Jiabao has invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to come to China next month for the seventh Asia-Europe Meeting. We would also welcome President Pratibha Patil to visit China sometime next year. The two sides should step up exchanges and cooperation between government departments, legislative bodies, political parties and local governments and make good use of the existing mechanisms, such as strategic dialogue, foreign policy consultation and defense and security dialogue, to enhance strategic mutual trust and lay a solid political foundation for the growth of China-India relations.
Second, boost economic cooperation and trade for win-win progress. Business cooperation has become a major highlight in our overall relations. During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to China earlier this year, the two sides announced that the target of trade set for 2010 would be raised to 60 billion US dollars from 40 billion US dollars as previously planned. To do this, we should fully tap the potential in business cooperation, upgrade trade quality, improve trade mix and achieve mutual complementarity. We are ready to work with India to launch negotiations on regional trading arrangement as soon as possible, properly address issues in economic cooperation and trade and take effective measures to remove trade and investment barriers so as to foster a sound environment for the business communities of the two countries. The Chinese Government encourages Chinese enterprises to make investment in India and we also wish to see Indian companies doing business in China.
Third, expand people-to-people and cultural exchanges, which will help cement public support for our relations. We should promote 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, non-governmental organizations and media organizations of the two countries. As amicable exchanges between young people are important to the growth of our bilateral relations, we should continue the mutual visits between the one-hundred-member youth delegations that I referred to earlier. This way, China-India friendship will take root and blossom in the hearts of the young people and will be carried forward from generation to generation. The year 2010 marks the 60th anniversary of China-India diplomatic relations. We will hold, for the first time, a festival of China in India and a festival of India in China. We should start preparations at an early date and ensure that the events will serve as a platform for enhancing mutual understanding and friendship. The government departments of our two countries should encourage people-to-people exchanges by simplifying visa procedures and increasing direct flights. On the Chinese side, we will, as we did before, facilitate Indian pilgrims’ travels to our Tibet Autonomous Region.
Fourth, strengthen cooperation in multilateral fora to uphold common interests. As developing countries and emerging economies, China and India have similar positions on major international issues and face common challenges. China sees in India an important partner in Asia and beyond. China and India should take an active part in the formulation of international rules, promote a multi-polar world and democracy in international relations, jointly meet the challenges of climate change, food and energy security, and uphold and promote the common interests of developing countries.
In regional affairs, China and India should be committed to regional and sub-regional cooperation to achieve mutual benefit and common development. China is South Asia’s largest neighbor. We sincerely hope to see a peaceful, stable, harmonious and prosperous South Asia and will continue to play a constructive role in this regard. As a SAARC observer, China is ready to carry out practical cooperation with SAARC on the basis of equality, mutual trust and respect for the wishes of SAARC members.
Fifth, address each other’s concerns and properly handle differences. Due to various reasons, China and India have some differences on the boundary and some other issues left over from history and we have our respective concerns on certain sensitive issues. In handling these issues, we should adopt a strategic approach and keep to the larger interests of our relations. We should respect and accommodate each other’s interests and concerns and properly manage the outstanding issues through consultations on an equal footing and in a spirit of mutual understanding and mutual accommodation. The past few years have seen good progress in the negotiations between our special representatives on the boundary question. The two sides have agreed on the political parameters and guiding principles and started the discussion of a framework for the settlement of the boundary question. This is an arduous and complex task. We should, with sincerity, resolve, confidence and patience, work hard to seek a fair and reasonable solution that is acceptable to both sides. Pending a final resolution of the boundary question, we should work together to ensure peace and stability in the border areas.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This year marks the 30th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up program. Thirty years ago, thanks to Mr. Deng Xiaoping’s initiative and under his leadership, the Chinese people embarked on a historic journey of reform and opening-up. Thirty years on, China has successfully completed the monumental transition from a highly centralized planned economy to a socialist market economy and from a closed or semi-closed society to one that fully embraces the world.
In the past 30 years, China has enjoyed fast and sustained economic growth. Between 1978 and 2007, our economy grew at an average annual rate of 9.88% and the GDP rose from the tenth to the fourth place in the world. The Chinese people, who once lacked adequate food and clothing, now enjoy a moderately prosperous life, with per capita income increasing almost six-fold during this period. The rural population that lives in abject poverty has dropped from 250 million to 10 million. And China has made all-round progress in social and cultural development and in advancing democracy and the rule of law.
As China is increasingly linked with the rest of the world, its economy has become an important part of the global economy. In 2007, China contributed more than 10% to the world economic growth. Its imports and exports totaled 2.17 trillion US dollars, paid-in overseas investment 74.8 billion US dollars, and outbound direct investment 18.7 billion US dollars. All these are among the highest figures in the developing world.
Despite these remarkable achievements, we are soberly aware of the challenges we face. China is a developing country with a large population and a weak economic foundation. Our per capita GDP is only a little over 2,500 US dollars, lagging behind more than 100 countries in the world. The difficulties and problems that we face in the course of development are rarely seen elsewhere in terms of their scope and complexity. It will take sustained and tremendous efforts to attain moderate prosperity in all respects and at a higher level that will benefit the over one billion Chinese people.
Different as they are in national conditions, China and India face the same task of growing economy, deepening reform and achieving sustainable development. We can therefore share experience on how to run a country and draw upon each other’s successful development model to attain common development. The Chinese economy and the Indian economy are really cut out for each other. India has a strong edge in IT industry, biotechnology and the services sector whereas China has unique experience in agriculture, manufacturing and development of special economic zones. We may learn from each other and benefit from each other’s strength. This will be a win-win scenario.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The year 2008 is a special year for China. In the first half of the year, extreme weather conditions of sleet and snowstorms struck southern China, followed by a devastating earthquake in Sichuan. In the face of these natural disasters, the Chinese people rallied together, overcame all kinds of difficulties and secured major victories in the rescue and relief efforts. The outpouring of sympathies and generous relief supplies from the Indian Government and people gave full expression to your warm feelings toward the Chinese people. On behalf of the Chinese Government, I wish to once again extend our heartfelt thanks to the Government and people of India.
Last month, thanks to active participation and strong support of India and other friendly nations, Beijing staged a high-standard Olympic Games with distinctive features. I would like to take this opportunity to say a big “thank you” to the Indian Government and our Indian friends from all walks of life. The Indian Olympians made a historic breakthrough in Beijing by winning one gold and two bronze medals. The Chinese people share the joy of the Indian people and wish Indian athletes even greater success in the future.
The Beijing Olympic Games brings not only glory for China but also pride for Asia and the entire developing world. It gets China more integrated into the world and makes the world know better about China. It has shown to the world that rather than being a threat, China’s development presents major opportunities to the world. China will be committed to peaceful development and the opening-up strategy for mutual benefit, seek development that is peaceful, open and cooperative in nature, and contribute its share to the building of a harmonious world of enduring peace and common prosperity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
President Hu Jintao said that China-India friendship not only serves the interest of both countries but also benefits Asia and the world at large. Today, our relations stand at a new starting point. Without friendly relations and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and India, there would be no development and prosperity of our respective countries, no harmony and rejuvenation of Asia, and no peace and progress of the world. I speak with full conviction that, with the personal commitment and support of our leaders as well as the concerted efforts of people from all walks of life in both countries, including all of you present, China-India relations will have an even better future. Let us work hand in hand and write a new chapter in the annals of China-India friendship and cooperation.