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Overseas trip off to successful start

2013-05-21 09:59 China Daily     Web Editor: Wang Fan comment
Premier Li Keqiang reviews a guard of honor at the Indian presidential palace in New Delhi on Monday. MA ZHANCHENG / XINHUA

Premier Li Keqiang reviews a guard of honor at the Indian presidential palace in New Delhi on Monday. MA ZHANCHENG / XINHUA

Despite China and India's arguments about territory issues and trade imbalances, Premier Li Keqiang's stop in India during his first overseas trip since he took the office has undoubtedly sent a positive and friendly signal.

The world's second-largest economy attaches great importance to its bilateral ties with India, and expects closer cooperation with the South Asian nation to invigorate the regional and worldwide economy while Europe is still struggling to overcome its debt woes and the US economic recovery is fragile.

Li's remarks to reporters after the welcoming ceremony held by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were right to the point.

"I have three purposes for this visit: enhancing the strategic mutual trust, deepening two-way cooperation and ensuring both sides face up to the future," he said.

"I hope China-India cooperation will become a new spotlight of cooperation among the Asian countries. And I also hope this cooperation would turn into a new growth engine of the world economy."

A border dispute has soured Sino-Indian bilateral ties for decades, and a trade deficit with China has been a major source of India's complaints and frequent trade remedy cases conducted against Chinese exports worldwide.

But as economic prospects with the developed nations are blurry, now is the time for the two Asian countries — the most populous nations in the world, and economies that are highly complementary to each other — to unite and seek more pragmatic cooperation.

Despite the economic deceleration, the Chinese government has vowed to sustain economic growth, setting a target of 7.5 percent for 2013. India, meanwhile, has launched its 12th Five Year (2012-17) Plan, predicting growth of 8 to 8.5 percent.

Currently, China is the second-largest trade partner for India, and India is China's 12th-largest partner.

On Monday, Li emphasized that the common interests China and India enjoy far outnumber the conflicts.

"The world's stability and peace cannot be achieved without mutual trust between China and India. The world's development and prosperity cannot be achieved without this bilateral cooperation."

Li kicked off a nine-day official overseas visit on Sunday, his first since becoming premier. His first stop was India, where he will stay for three days, followed by Pakistan and the two European nations of Switzerland and Germany.

Li has an emotional attachment to India. About 27 years ago, as a member of the Secretariat with the Communist Youth League, Li stayed in India for more than a week. The visit "buried seeds of friendship" in his heart.

Another reason that he chose India as his first destination is because "India is a very important neighbor to China".

In response, Li was warmly accepted by his Indian counterpart as well as the Indian people. His visit has been prominent in the headlines of all the country's major newspapers.

In less than 24 hours, Li and Singh had held two official meetings at the latter's invitation. On Sunday evening, a few hours after his arrival, Li held a small-scale official meeting and had dinner with Singh at the latter's official residence. At noon the next day, the two heads met again to exchange views.

The talks, according to Li, were very "deep, friendly and frank".

"It made me feel like I was at home. I really appreciate his (Singh's) arrangements," Li said.

The Indian officials confided to their Chinese counterparts that they are fascinated by Li's sincerity, pragmatism and humor.

On Monday, the two leaders signed a series of cooperative agreements and memorandums ranging from agriculture and water resources to publications, as well as a joint declaration on promoting mutual trust and pragmatic cooperation.

The delegation flies to Mumbai on Tuesday, where Li will give a keynote speech during a commercial summit.

The visit is only a starting point. "A successful start is halfway to final success," the premier said.

Later this year, Singh will pay a much-anticipated official visit to China.

"The seeds sown today in spring will be harvested in autumn," Li said.

 Premier Li Keqiang's First Overseas Trip

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