Ambassador Sun Weidong Interviewed by The Times of India and Hindustan Times
2019/09/25

On September 25th, 2019, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong gave interviews to Indian mainstream media The Times of India and Hindustan Times separately, sharing his views on China-India relations, bilateral trade cooperation, China's Belt and Road Initiative,Huawei 5G issue, China's role in India-Pakistan situation, Afghanistan issue and other issues. The full transcript of the interview is as follows:

Q: What's your view on the status of China-India relations at this time of serious geopolitical flux? what are China's considerations on stepping up cooperation with India and pushing for the overall growth of bilateral relations?

A:At present, the international situation is turbulent, but the trend of peace, development, and win-win cooperation is irreversible. As fast-growing emerging economies and major developing countries, China and India are the backbone of world multi-polarity and economic globalization. Strengthening solidarity and cooperation between China and India means enhancing stability in a turbulent and intertwined world. Since President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held the informal summit in Wuhan last year, the two sides have worked actively to implement the consensus reached by the two leaders, strengthen high-level exchanges, deepen practical cooperation, and enhance people-to-people and cultural exchanges. The bilateral relations have been upgraded to higher quality and put on track of sound and steady development.

For China-India relations, opportunities and cooperation outweigh challenges and differences. It is no doubt that we can be partners for win-win cooperation and friends for common development. The two sides should give full play to the strategic guidance of our leaders in developing bilateral relations, transmit the leaders' consensus to all levels and translate the consensus into tangible cooperation and outcomes. We need to go beyond the mode of managing differences, shape bilateral relations and accumulate positive momentum. We should also promote convergence of interests and achieve common development by strengthening exchanges and cooperation.

Q: There are a lot of interest here on Huawei's possible participation in 5G trials in India and opinions vary. What are China's expectations from India on this (Huawei 5G trial in India) issue?

A:The popularization and application of 5G technology is the trend of the times and represents the development direction of the new generation of information and communication technology. As a cornerstone of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, 5G will play a critical role in promoting the deep integration of technology and industrial economy as well as in reshaping the industrial structure.

Huawei's technologies and products have won orders from many global telecom operators due to its competitive advantages and enjoyed international reputation. Huawei has been operating in India for 20 years in compliance with the law, and hired about 6,000 Indian employees with localization rate of over 90%. Huawei has created a large number of local jobs and made important contributions to India's information technology and economic development. Huawei's product technology and security are also blameless. A number of Indian companies and operators are calling for continued use of Huawei's products. The essence of market rules lies in equal treatment and level playing field. We hope and believe that the Indian side will make an independent judgment on Huawei's participation in India's 5G technical cooperation and provide an open, fair, transparent and non-discriminatory environment for Chinese enterprises that invest and operate in India. It will not only set an example for mutually beneficial cooperation between China and India, but also help India seize the opportunity to take a lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Q: India's bilateral trade with China is growing but so is its trade deficit. How do you think China can help India bridge this trade gap which remains one of India's most important concerns in bilateral ties? As you know, India wants better access for its IT and pharmaceutical products and also for its services sector?

A: China has never pursued a trade surplus, and the trade imbalance between China and India is largely caused by differences in the industrial structure of the two countries. China has taken active measures to expand imports from India, including lowering tariffs on some Indian imports to China, sending purchasing delegations to India, and assisting in the export of Indian agricultural products and pharmaceuticals to China. Over the past five years, China's imports from India have increased by 15%. In the first half of this year, India's trade deficit with China fell by 5% year on year, and its agricultural export volume to China doubled over the same period last year. The box office of Indian films is twice as much in China as in India. These figures have shown China's efforts and sincerity in addressing the trade imbalance.

At present, China is the second largest consumer market, with the largest middle-income group in the world. China is ready to import products with high quality and competitive price which meet the needs of the Chinese market. China welcomes more exports of marketable and competitive Indian products to the Chinese market. China and India are huge markets with 2.7 billion people. Both sides should broaden our vision and take more comprehensive measures such as increasing mutual investments, encouraging Indian enterprises to participate in China International Import Expo, upgrading Nathula border trade port, concluding RCEP as soon as possible to make the pie of cooperation even bigger and gradually ease trade imbalance in the process of cooperation and development of the two countries.

In recent years, China-India pharmaceutical trade has been growing continuously. India has become the fourth largest pharmaceutical trading partner of China and the largest export destination of China's Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs). This June, competent authorities of China and India held the China-India Drug Regulation Meeting in Shanghai. The two sides conducted in-depth exchanges on expanding cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector and achieved good results. Recently, China revised its drug administration law to facilitate the export of India's general medicines to China. We welcome Indian pharmaceutical companies to seize the opportunity to actively explore the Chinese market.

Q: You have arrived here at a time when tensions are again mounting between India and Pakistan. With your experience of having served in Pakistan, how do you look at the tension between India and Pakistan and how do you think China can help diffuse it?

A: India and Pakistan are neighbors, and neighbors cannot be moved away from each other. As an old Chinese saying goes, "a close neighbor is better than a distant relative". What's more, India and Pakistan are both important countries in South Asia and big developing countries with over 100 million populations respectively which face the common task of developing economy and improving people's livelihoods. Peace is the precondition for development. Without peace, it is difficult to achieve economic growth and national stability. The root cause of tension between India and Pakistan is disputes left over by history. If India and Pakistan resolve disputes through dialogue and focus on social and economic development, it would not only create stable environment for each other's national development, but also helps maintain regional peace and tranquility. It meets the common expectations of regional countries and the international community.

As a shared neighbor and friend of India and Pakistan, China sincerely wishes to see the two countries live in harmony and resolve disputes peacefully. China supports anything that is conducive to the improvement of India-Pakistan relations and regional peace, stability and prosperity, and is willing to continue to play a constructive role to this end.

Q: How successful has the Wuhan Spirit been in addressing the differences and difficulties in India-China relations and promoting the overall progress of the bilateral relationship?

A: In April last year, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an informal summit in Wuhan, creating a new model of high level exchanges between China and India, which was a milestone in bilateral relations. The two leaders have viewed and approached China-India relations from an overall and historical perspective, and put forward three recommendations. First, China and India should see each other as a positive factor in the changing international landscape. Second, the development and growth of China and India is an important opportunity for each other. Third, China and India should analyze and view each other's intentions in a positive, open and inclusive light. The above consensus has charted the course and set goals for the development of China-India relations.

Over the past year, the two sides actively implemented the important consensus reached by the two leaders, and the positive effects of the Wuhan informal summit are still unfolding. The two sides have maintained close high-level exchanges. President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met five times on the sidelines of multilateral forums such as BRICS, the SCO, and G20. China and India successfully held two rounds of meetings of High-Level People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges Mechanism. This September, China and India held the Sixth Strategic Economic Dialogue to explore ways to synergize development strategies. Today over 1,000 Chinese companies are doing business in India, with a cumulative investment of 8 billion US dollars, creating more than 200,000 local jobs. China-India relations have shown sound momentum of development. It not only promotes the common development of the two countries, but also has a positive impact on regional peace and stability.

Q: As India and China prepare for the second informal summit of their leaders, what are China's expectations for the summit?

A: The world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. The rise of emerging economies such as China and India has changed the international landscape. The world economy is once again at a crossroads. The rise of protectionism and unilateralism has severely affected international stability. China and India are the two largest developing countries and emerging economies. The two countries share similarities in development stage, tasks and goals. The global uncertainty and instability poses common challenge to both countries. Strengthening solidarity and cooperation between China and India presents an opportunity for our respective development and the world at large. It will not only benefit one third of the world's population, by injecting strong impetus to the development of our two countries, but also bring positive energy to international relations. To maintain high-level exchanges between China and India will play an irreplaceable important role in the development of bilateral relations, and be conducive to the two countries' focus on development and deepening cooperation.

Q: Concerns have been expressed about the tensions between India and Pakistan. Will China play any role in reducing these tensions?

A: India and Pakistan are neighbors, and neighbors cannot be moved away from each other. As an old Chinese saying goes, "a close neighbor is better than a distant relative". What's more, India and Pakistan are both important countries in South Asia and big developing countries with over 100 million populations respectively. Both face the common task of developing economy and improving people's livelihoods. The root cause of tension between India and Pakistan is disputes left over from history. If India and Pakistan settle disputes through dialogue and focus on social and economic development, it would not only create a stable environment for each other's national development, but also helps maintain regional peace and tranquility. This is in line with the common expectation of regional countries and the international community.

As a common neighbor and friend of India and Pakistan, China sincerely wishes to see the two countries live in harmony and resolve disputes peacefully. China supports anything that is conducive to the improvement of India-Pakistan relations and regional peace, stability and prosperity, and is ready to continue to play a constructive role to this end.

Q: What is China's position on the peace process in Afghanistan? Can China and India work together to ensure a durable settlement that ensures a peaceful and stable Afghanistan?

A: As a close neighbor of Afghanistan, China follows closely the developments of the Afghan situation in recent years and has been playing an active role in promoting peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. This year, China hosted the 3rd China-Russia-US trilateral consultation on the Afghan issue and the 1st China-Russia-US-Pakistan four-party meeting, and attended the third China-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Foreign Ministers' Dialogue. Through above-mentioned mechanisms, China actively communicated and coordinated with relevant parties to promote peace talks and create conditions for the final settlement of the Afghan issue.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has stressed that the political arrangement for Afghanistan in the future should follow the following three principles: First, it should have broad representation and inclusiveness to make all factions and ethnic groups in Afghanistan equally involved in the political life and share state power. Second, it should unswervingly stick to counter-terrorism and never let Afghanistan once again become a safe haven for terrorist organizations. Third, it should follow a foreign policy of peace and friendship, thus to live in peace with various countries in the world, especially with neighboring countries of Afghanistan, and play a constructive role in regional peace and stability.

The situation in Afghanistan bears on regional peace and stability. As neighbors of Afghanistan, China and India should work together to play a constructive role in helping Afghanistan realize peace, reconciliation, stability and development at an early date. During the Wuhan informal summit last year, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached an important consensus on "China-India plus" cooperation and partnered with Afghanistan in the first place. Last year, the debut of Joint China-India Training Program for Afghan Diplomats was successfully held, as the first step in "China-India plus Afghanistan" cooperation. Building on this, China and India should further expand cooperation on the Afghan issue and play a positive role to eventually achieve peace and national reconciliation in Afghanistan.

Q: Your predecessor had once talked about making China's Belt and Road Initiative and India's Act East policy complementary. Do you think this is feasible? What can China do to address India's concerns about the Belt and Road Initiative?

A: The Belt and Road initiative and Act East policy are important initiatives of China and India respectively to promote openness, cooperation and regional connectivity. There is a huge demand for infrastructure connectivity in the region. In this regard, China and India can definitely synergize cooperation policies and conduct trilateral cooperation in order to achieve mutual benefits and all-win results, and to enhance the overall competitiveness in the region.

Strengthening connectivity cooperation between China and India will become a new growth point in bilateral relations.The two sides can jointly explore a win-win cooperation model in this regard. In fact, China and India had set a good example by the cooperation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). India boasts the founding member and second largest shareholder of the AIIB, as well as the biggest beneficiary of AIIB's funds. In addition, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor has made a good start in the connectivity cooperation. China is willing to explore synergy of development strategies, and create a mutually beneficial and win-win prospect.

Q: What is being done to give a further boost to India-China trade, especially at a time when international trade is being hit by the China-US trade war and unilateral actions from certain quarters that are affecting multilateral institutions and arrangements? What are your thoughts on ways to address India's growing trade deficit and the call for greater access to the Chinese market?

A: At present, with the escalation of international trade tensions, the United States has repeatedly taken protectionist measures and unilateral actions, which have severely impacted the multilateral trade system and posed challenges to world economic recovery and growth. With rising uncertainties in the external environment, China and India, as major emerging and developing countries, should uphold free trade and jointly speak out against trade protectionism and unilateralism. The two sides can strengthen cooperation under the WTO framework, jointly safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries and play their due roles in safeguarding the multilateral trading system and advancing the WTO reforms towards the right direction. Besides, the two sides should work together to promote regional economic integration and speed up negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP). As emerging markets with over 1 billion population, China and India have great potential for trade relations. The two sides could further promote trade growth by signing free trade agreements.

China has never pursued a trade surplus, and the trade imbalance between China and India is largely the result of differences in their industrial structures. China has taken active measures to increase imports from India, including lowering tariffs on some Indian imports to China, sending purchasing delegations to India, and assisting in the export of Indian agricultural products and pharmaceuticals to China. Over the past five years, China's imports from India have increased by 15%. In the first half of this year, India's trade deficit with China fell by 5% year on year, and its agricultural export to China doubled over the same period last year. The box office of Indian films is twice as much in China as in India. These figures have shown China's efforts and sincerity in addressing the trade imbalance.

At present, China is the second largest consumer market, with the largest middle-income group in the world. China is ready to import products with high quality and competitive price which meet the needs of the Chinese market. China welcomes more exports of marketable and competitive Indian products to the Chinese market. We should broaden our vision and take more holistic measures such as increasing mutual investments, encouraging Indian companies to participate in China International Import Expo, upgrading Nathula border trade port, concluding RCEP as soon as possible to make the pie of cooperation even bigger and gradually reduce trade imbalance in the process of cooperation and development of the two countries.

Suggest to a Friend
  Print