As Chinese Premiere Wen Jaibao touched down at New Delhi’s International airport this morning he brought in one of India’s most significant meetings amongst the P5 yet. Said to be a landmark visit, he comes bearing extensive trade ties from greater partnerships in the pharmaceutical and infrastructure industries to cultural and language exchanges, from huge financial loans to Indian companies to ironing out sticky visa and diplomatic hurdles.
Depending heavily on India’s vast market and middle class to drive their next wave of growth, China has made India an integral part of its next five year plan from 2011-2016. As Chinese companies plan to penetrate the Indian market, India will also be one of the few markets the Chinese will give access to while developing and growing the domestic market.
Heralded as an important visit for both nations, the yawning trade imbalance in favour of China is currently unstable and unacceptable for India. As a result, during premiere Wen’s three-day visit with over 400 company representatives, expect Chinese companies to announce several significant deals with Indian companies across sectors to balance the scales more evenly and cajole India into opening up her markets further for Chinese goods.
On the foreign policy front too, attitudes between the two nations have improved significantly. From ignorance and distrust for each other, China’s stance towards India has altered significantly. Earlier, India barely featured in the Chinese media, as a poorer neighbor, China concentrated more with building ties with the West – America and Europe. However over the past few years as the financial meltdown snowballed, ethical and economic differences arose, China decided to concentrate more on Asia and growth in the region. As a result, India with a huge market became a strong Mandarin ally and the world became big enough to handle the rise and growth of both super powers, the dragon and tiger.
In light of this sweet and sour relationship between Asia’s two so called re-emerging super powers, Premier Wen’s three day visit with over 200 Chinese companies is a bold move by both nations to burn down the bamboo curtain and extend a bridge over the Himalaya’s. The meeting will not only announce a strengthening of trade ties and increased market accessibility to both countries but will lay the foundation for wider and deeper ties between the two nations. Aiming to consolidate their strengths and aid each other through international and regional upheavals, this meeting is expected to solidify ties so that both India and China can together rise as an Asian phoenix.
This will be the Premier’s second visit to India, the last one being in 2005. During the visit, China will sign deals worth over US$20 billion, and meet several high-profile Indian leaders such as his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, Indian President Pratibha Patil, the ruling Congress Party’s chief, Sonia Gandhi and probably the only Indian politician that really understands India-China Shiv Shankar Menon.
The financial sector is set to be one of the focal points of the visit, according to Gautam Bambawale, joint secretary, East Asia in India’s Ministry of External Affairs and former Indian consul general in Guangzhou. Speaking at a Sino-Indian roundtable in New Delhi on Monday, Bambawale said, “This visit by Wen will see the two sides cooperating closer in the financial sector, especially in the area of banking,” adding that India “looks forward” to Chinese banks entering its market.
“There are already more than 10 Indian banks operating in China, but so far there are no Chinese banks in India,” Zhang Yan, China’s ambassador to India, said on the same day. “I hope that, very soon, the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China will open a branch in India.”