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Consul General Zha Liyou Received an Interview from ANM NEWS
2021/09/01

On August 31, Consul General Zha Liyou received an interview from ANM NEWS regarding China-India relations, people-to-people exchanges and economic and trade cooperation between China and East India. The main contents are as follows:

1. Indo-China people to people relationship---the way forward

Under the current situation of the pandemic, people-to-people exchanges between China and India have been somewhat affected. However, there is a Chinese saying that “Solutions always outnumber problems”, which means people cannot and should not fear challenges. We have managed to organize various kinds of virtual meetings which turned out to be very successful. And we have further plans of online interactions for the future. Suggestions and recommendations are welcome.

China-India Relations: Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi pointed out at a press conference during China's "two sessions" earlier this year that China-India relationship is essentially about how the world's two largest developing countries get along and pursue development and rejuvenation together. China and India are the only two major developing countries in the world with a population of more than one billion respectively. We are both major emerging economies with broad prospects for development. China and India should unswervingly stick to the consensus reached by our national leaders, complement each other instead of undercutting each other, and intensify cooperation instead of harboring suspicion at each other. We need to correctly understand and view each other to avoid any strategic miscalculation.

China looks forward to increasing dialogues and exchanges with India in areas of governance, culture, education, media, business, think tanks, and youth etc. to build bridges between the two peoples and inject more impetus into the bilateral relations.

China’s achievements in fighting against Covid-19 and its assistance to India:

In 2020, China won a massive victory in the fight against Covid-19 and resumed normal life and economy. This year, rapidly-spreading Delta variant has caused increasing infections and deaths around the world. China takes a stringent zero-COVID-19 approach, including strict quarantines for foreign arrivals, targeted lockdowns in high-risk areas, mass testing and vaccination etc., which have proved to be very effective. Reuters reported that on August 23 no new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases were reported nationwide for the first time since July, and China "could become the world's first country to control a major Delta outbreak”.

China has provided necessary assistance of fighting against COVID-19 to affected countries including India. After the outbreak of the second wave of COVID-19 in India, China was one of the first countries to offer support and take actions. While India is fighting the pandemic, China has not been absent or sat back apathetically. President Xi Jinping sent a message of solidarity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing our sincere sympathies to the Indian government and people. He stated that China is willing to strengthen anti-pandemic cooperation with India, and provide support and help to India. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a phone conversation with External Affairs Minister Dr. Jaishankar, and proposed several measures that China was willing to take in accordance with India's demand. My office also facilitated local friends in business in procuring badly-needed medical equipment from China.

CPC 100th Anniversary: The year 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The past 100 years of the CPC from 1921 to 2021 has also seen the nation standing up, growing rich and becoming strong. Therefore, to understand China, it’s essential to have a good knowledge of the Communist Party of China.

The CPC is a party that seeks happiness for the Chinese people. As General Secretary of the CPC Xi Jinping said: "Since the very day of its founding, the party has taken seeking happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation of China as its aspiration and mission." CPC is also a party that strives for the cause of human progress. China puts forward the concept of building a global community of shared future, which calls for win-win cooperation and rejects the law of the jungle, power politics and hegemony, and goes beyond the zero-sum game mindset.

2. In a post pandemic scenario, what are future plans in Kolkata and West bengal?

Kolkata is the sister city of Kunming and West Bengal is the gateway for China to come to India. Since I took office, I have been working at strengthening up the bilateral ties between them. We sent Indian delegations of business, local government and women leaders, students, acupuncturists to visit Yunnan.

In the past one and half year, though face-to-face exchanges come to a halt due to covid-19 , we successfully held several online programs to enable Chinese and Indian friends to meet virtually. During the pandemic, many local business friends procure medical equipment from China. Besides, Yunnan provided around 10 governmental scholarships to students from East India this year. There is still a great potential in exchanges and cooperation between us, and my office is willing to vigorously facilitate these exchanges after the pandemic.

3. Has there been a sharp drop in trade from Kolkata in the last one year and are there any plans to recover?

China-India trade volume: In 2020, India-China trade stood at USD 77.67 billion, which was lower than USD 85.47 billion in 2019 due to Covid-19. But China was still India’s largest trading partner. In the first half of this year, China-India bilateral trade totalled USD 57.48 billion, an increase of 62.7 per cent according to data released by China’s Customs.

China’s economy performance: China took the lead in virus containment, work and production resumption, as well as a return to economic expansion from a sudden contraction. China’s economy grew 2.3 percent for the whole year of 2020 on the back of an expansion of 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter, making it the only major economy that achieved growth last year.

In the first half of 2021, China's gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 12.7 percent year-on-year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on July 15. China aims at an economic expansion of over 6 percent this year, creating more than 11 million new urban jobs and expanding domestic demand and effective investment, which are expected to put the economy firmly back to pre-pandemic vibrancy. The World Bank forecasts that China's economic growth will be at 8.5 percent in 2021.

While further developing its domestic economy, China will continue to open its doors wider to the world to be a contributor to global development.

Suggestions on China India economic cooperation: The economies of China and India are highly complementary, which becomes common sense nowadays. China has been India's largest trading partner for consecutive years and India is China's largest trading partner in South Asia. China is always willing to strengthen economic and trade relations with India, and I have following suggestions:

Firstly, we hope India will treat Chinese companies in accordance with the WTO principles of non-discrimination and fair market competition, and provide an open, transparent and fair business environment instead of "erecting walls" or pursuing "decoupling".

Secondly, Pradesh/Province relation leads to economic expansion. State has larger responsibility to enlarge the cake for more to share.

Thirdly, business community should not wait until everything is ready. We have a bigger role to play to advise our leaders.

Lastly, creativity is needed from civil society and youth. Though we have big numbers regarding trade, that’s too small relative to the size of our countries. Our potential is so huge that we have to renovate existing schemes and mindset and create new platforms of interaction and thinking.

4. Are the Chinese Consulate planning anything for the durga puja?

My office took an active part in Durga puja in the past several years by inviting winning Durga puja committee representatives to visit China.For the sake of Covid 19 we are not thinking of joining any real celebrating activities. However, I would like to take this opportunity to extend festive greetings to people of West Bengal in advance and wish everyone a very happy and safe Durga Puja.

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