By Hardev Sanotra
Beijing, July 2 (IANS) India, China and Nepal should go ahead and order a feasibility study for an economic corridor among the three nations that will benefit its people, a senior Chinese official said here.
Huang Xilian, deputy director-general in the Department of Asian Affairs at the foreign ministry said that ties between India and China “were the most important bilateral relationship in the world” and that both the countries should step up efforts to strengthen these. “What we need is a heart-to-heart exchange between the two nations,” he added.
He said that the trilateral corridor was briefly discussed between President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the latter’s visit to China, but it was time to move the proposal forward.
He said the corridor could comprise road and rail links from China to Nepal, under the Himalayas, and then India. It could also link the three through air connectivity and people to people exchanges.
He said the nearest rail link to Nepal in China was today around 300 km away but technically it posed no problem. “It would be a dream come true” for the people of the three nations.
He said India and China need to step up consultations on this, apart from ordering a feasibility study as a first concrete step. “China is ready for this,” he said. “Close neighbours,” he said, were more important than relatives.
Talking of the trade gap between India and China, which was in favour of the latter, Xilian said that his country had encouraged local companies to do business with India. He wants to see many of the large companies to set up base in India too. ‘Made in India’ and ‘Made in China’ should be combined, he said.
“The main word between the two economies, is ‘development’,” he said.
China would be importing some $10 trillion of goods over the next five years and Indian companies should take advantage of this to balance some of the trade, he said.
On the border question, Xilian said that this would be a topic for others in the ministry to answer, but his brief stand was that there should be peace and tranquillity along the India-China border.
He said a mechanism existed between the two countries to look at all the issues relating to the border and the two countries should look for closer cooperation through that. “We seek a reasonable solution between the two sides as early as possible,” Xilian said.
He said the recent earthquake in Nepal had shown how vulnerable the mountain nation was and India he said had given timely help and had been generous and magnanimous in its approach to the smaller nation. Both China and India, he said, need to help Kathmandu cope with the tragedy and the recent donor conference which he had attended with his foreign minister showed how this could be done.
He said his minister had met his Indian counterparts in Kathmandu to discuss several issues of mutual concern and the question of the India-Nepal-China economic corridor had also briefly come up.
(Hardev Sanotra is in China at the invitation of the All China Journalists’ Association. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)