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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  India protests China’s plans for $46 billion PoK investments

India protests China’s plans for $46 billion PoK investments

The protest comes on a day a Chinese newspaper accused Narendra Modi of 'playing little tricks' over the India-China border dispute

A file photo of China’s President Xi Jinping and PM Narendra Modi at the Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad. Modi will start his China visit on 14 May. Photo: AFPPremium
A file photo of China’s President Xi Jinping and PM Narendra Modi at the Sabarmati Ashram, Ahmedabad. Modi will start his China visit on 14 May. Photo: AFP

New Delhi: India has lodged a protest with China over its plans to invest $46 billion into a proposed Pakistani economic corridor that passes through Kashmir, foreign secretary S. Jaishankar said on Tuesday.

Jaishankar’s revelation came on a day the Chinese Global Times newspaper accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “playing little tricks" over the India-China border dispute and security issues to boost his domestic prestige.

The two developments appeared to have cast a shadow over Modi’s 14-16 May visit to China, with uncertainty over whether Modi will be able to extract credible outcomes from the trip.

In another development, Modi met lawmakers from northeastern states, including Arunachal Pradesh whose sovereignty China disputes with India.

The lawmakers’ delegation included Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijijju, who is from Arunachal Pradesh.

Modi also met Chinese journalists ahead of his visit and in posts on his Twitter account said that he had “talked about our shared responsibility to help developing nations, especially in poverty eradication.

“Asia, being the land of Buddha, has the responsibility to ensure that this is a century free from war," Modi said.

The revelation that India had registered its protest with China over the economic corridor with Pakistan came during a briefing on Modi’s upcoming visit to China, Mongolia and South Korea.

“The matter has been taken up with the Chinese government through diplomatic was taken up with the Chinese ambassador in New Delhi," Jaishankar told reporters, adding that India’s ambassador to China, Ashok Kantha, had also raised the subject with the authorities there.

China announced the signing of more than 50 pacts worth an estimated $46 billion in infrastructure projects as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) during Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan last month.

The project envisages connecting the city of Kashgar in western China with the Pakistani deep sea port of Gwadar.

According to news reports, the corridor project consists of oil storage facilities at the Pakistani port of Gwadar and a 3,000-kilometre network of pipelines, railways and motorways from Gwadar, through Pakistan to Kashgar in western China.

It also entails technical cooperation on air transport, rail infrastructure, wind and hydro power, and fiber optic communications.

India objects to the planned construction of infrastructure in a part of Kashmir that is under Pakistani control. China’s economic and military cooperation with Pakistan has been a source of friction between India and China.

Meanwhile, a schedule put out by the external affairs ministry said Modi will start off his visit at X’ian, the capital of China’s northwest Shaanxi province, where he will be met by Xi.

X’ian is the birthplace of Xi’s father, according to people familiar with the developments on the Chinese side.

On 15 May, Modi will travel to Beijing for talks with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

Some government-to-government agreements are expected to be signed, Jaishankar said, without giving further details.

On the last day of the visit, Modi will visit China’s commercial capital Shanghai, where he will address Chinese business leaders.

Some business-to-business pacts are expected to be signed in Shanghai.

Jaishankar said Indian and Chinese leaders will discuss a whole range of issues, which could include their undemarcated border.

On the ballooning trade deficit, an issue over which Indian industry has expressed concern, Jaishankar said this could be rectified through increased trade and investments.

In 2014-15, the trade deficit in China’s favour was expected to touch $45 billion, according to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) lobby group.

“There are many areas where India is globally competitive but we have not been able to be successful in the Chinese market," Jaishankar said, giving the examples of information technology (IT) and pharmaceuticals.

Indian agri products, too, are struggling for access to the Chinese market, he said, adding that India seeks a “more enlightened regulatory practice which would create a better trade balance".

Separately, CII urged the government to address issues relating to the trade imbalance and non-tariff barriers.

“Sectors such as IT, drugs and pharma, and media and entertainment pose several challenges for Indian companies. To contain the rising trade deficit between India and China, CII suggests urgent measures to reduce non-tariff barriers in these sectors," CII director general Chandrajit Banerjee told a press conference.

“We do expect trade to grow exponentially between the two countries," CII president Sumit Mazumder said.

An agenda for action outlined by CII calls for “leveraging India’s importance as a market for Chinese products as well as an investment destination for Chinese companies".

It also calls for prioritization of Chinese foreign direct investment in 18 areas and to attract Chinese investment in Indian infrastructure.

“As far as exports to China are concerned, we have identified five areas where we think there is good potential for Indian companies to increase exports to China: pharmaceuticals, IT, automotive components, media and entertainment and outbound tourism," Pawan Goenka, executive director, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, told the press conference.

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Published: 13 May 2015, 12:53 AM IST
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