Narendra Modi in China to reduce India’s trade deficit with China
Beijing (AsiaNews) – In an informal setting, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his guest, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “outlined the future of Asia, a new light for the whole world,” this according to the caption to the photo (pictured) the People's Daily published today about the meeting in the ancient imperial capital of Xian that opened Modi’s three-day visit to China.
This is the second bilateral summit, after Xi’s visit to India in September 2014, which was made only four months after Modi’s election, when the Indian leader was still learning the ropes of power. At present, the situation is settled, with India’s growth perspective possibly better than China’s.
China’s economic growth has in fact been showing signs of a slowdown for the past five years but Modi seems intent on getting Chinese and other capital involved in his country’s development. In fact, his ‘Make in India’ campaign is designed to attract Chinese capital through tax breaks.
As labour costs rise in China and the population ages because of its one-child policy, manufacturing firms are looking for new sites. India is just one such place. And China is currently India's biggest trading partner with commerce between the two countries totalling US$ 71 billion.
However, for India this has meant a trade deficit with its northern neighbour, one that has spiralled from just US$ 1 billion in 2001-02 to more than US$ 38 billion at present.
Still, New Delhi hopes to reap new benefits from China’s renowned capacities in infrastructure (including abroad) and manufacturing. In exchange, it is ready to help China in software development to increase industrial competitiveness and efficiency.
For India, one key area that would benefit from Chinese investment is the country’s railway network, one of the longest in the world but also one of the most decrepit.
The media and analysts from both countries have expressed cautious optimism about the results of the visit, which should be announced on Saturday.
Meanwhile, some have focused on Modi’s soft power diplomacy. After his meeting with President Xi and the now obligatory visit to the site of Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s Terracotta Army, the Indian leader and his Chinese counterpart, Premier Li Keqiang, will attend a joint demonstration of tai chi and yoga on Friday at the Temple of Heaven – built in 1420 during the Ming dynasty for the worship of the God of Heaven.