Beijing: On a goodwill visit to China, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday made a strong pitch for Chinese investments, asserting that his state, which is the “growth engine” of India with the best infrastructure, offers excellent returns for foreign investments.
Modi, who is on his fourth visit here, struck an emotional chord while addressing a well-attended China-India business get-together, stating that he found “abundant love and affection” during his trips to China, whose people have a special place in his heart.
“China and its people have a special place in my heart. I admire their hard working, disciplined and resilient nature and above all, their sense of history. Our cultural bonds are very strong and deep-rooted. Over the years, our relations have further strengthened. We are committed to making them still better, fruitful and productive,” Modi said.
File photo of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi . Bloomberg.
“I have seen growing interest among Chinese companies to work in Gujarat. We wholeheartedly welcome them. My personal visit is to reinforce that process,” he said.
Modi also announced plans to open a Mandarin school to promote learning of Chinese language in Gujarat.
“To give a big boost to the economic interaction, we must emphasise on cultural exchange. I am keen to start a Mandarin language school. We also have a number of Buddhist places, which can be the driver of cultural exchange. You may be happy to know that Gujarat has already emerged as a great tourist destination in the Asian region,” he said.
About 80 Chinese companies took part in the “Business and Investment Opportunities in State of Gujarat”, jointly held by embassy of India here along with the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME).
Coinciding with his visit, official figures released on Wednesday said the Chinese investments abroad have gone up by $67.8 billion in 2011, registering a 21.7% increase compared to 2009.
More than $300 billion was invested abroad by 2010, making China the 5th-largest foreign investor in the world, Li Jiping, vice president of China Development Bank, said.
By the end of 2010, Chinese companies operating overseas had hired over 1.1 million people, 800,000 of them foreign employees, Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, said.
Though China-India trade touched about $62 billion last year, Chinese investments in India amounted to only a few hundred million dollars.
India is currently wooing China to get a large share of billions of dollars of infrastructure projects coming up all over the country.
Modi, in his speech, said while ”India has emerged” is the buzz word all around the world, China’s emergence is already an established fact.
India and China are set to play a major role in global politics. “Already, it is being seen that during the time of global recession, both India and China have given strength to the world economy,” he said.
He said the “demographic clock of history” is in favour of both countries, which have a billion-plus population each.
“I have also been saying that it is the age of the power of the youth. These two countries have the youth power. India and China are both very ancient civilisations. But, more than ever before, the demographic clock of history is in their favour. We in India, firmly believe that our youth power will make our country emerge as a strong force not only in economic terms but in all the aspects of human life,” Modi said.
While population is strength, “inclusiveness of our people with our fast growth is our biggest challenge. Whatever India and China do, affects one third of the humanity. Therefore, our responsibility gets enhanced. We in Gujarat understand it fully. We are working hard for ‘Gujarat’s growth to ensure India’s growth´. We are committed to contributing immensely to India’s faster growth,” he said.
At the same time, Modi said, Gujarat represents “a very different model of growth.”
Within India, “Gujarat is considered to be the Growth Engine. Among other things, it contributes to 30% of India’s stock market capitalisation,” he said.
“However, to my mind, the bigger success is that Gujarat has an amazing mix of the big and small; robust and inclusive; fast and sustainable. It has done wonderfully well on both the macro and the micro indicators,” he aid.
“Our growth rate of GDP has been in double digits for a decade. At the same time, the per capita income of the people has also grown at the fastest rate of 13.8%,” he said.
“Not only multinationals and big companies have done well, but a large number of SMEs have also prospered. Not only the industry has grown at 13% but agriculture has also grown at more than 10%,” he said
He said Gujarat has already emerged as a global player in products like pharmaceuticals, chemicals and engineering.
“However, we have to do better still. Therefore, we are making a paradigm shift in our strategy for development. Our dream is a Gujarat which is a globally preferred place to live in and to do business,” he said.
On his government’s initiative to form Special Investment Regions (SIRs), he said they would be developed as “Global Hubs of economic activity supported by world class infrastructure, civic amenities and exemplary policy framework.”
The development of these SIRs is in line with the development of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor.
Later, Modi and his delegation held talks with Ai Ping, vice minister of International Department of the ruling CPC, which his invited him to the country.