Consul General Zheng Xiyuan Interviewed by Mumbai Messenger
December 23-29,2015


Zheng Xiyuan was born in Sichuan, China. He is fascinated by Mumbai. He loves the festivals, old buildings of Colonial era and old trees of Mumbai. It reminds him of his childhood days. Before his Mumbai posting he held several important positions. He started his career in the Department of International Laws and Agreements, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He has served in Chinese Consulate General in New York, Second Secretary, Department of Management for Foreign Affairs, Director, Department of Policy Planning, Counselor, Chinese Embassy in Greece and Counselor, Department of Policy Planning, MFA. In a candid talk with Senior Journalist MEWATI SITARAM…

Tell us about the Indo-China Trade Collaboration…

China is recognized worldwide as a world's manufacturing factory while India as a world's office. China-India business cooperation is growing upstream with stronger momentum and higher speed. China and India as the second and ninth largest economies respectively have a combined GDP of over US$ 12 trillion and a huge market with one third of the world's population. The Chinese economy has been steadily upgraded while the Indian economy has entered a phase of fast growth. We are ready to synergize our development strategy with that of India, expand win-win cooperation, take forward our respective national development, and facilitate regional and world development and prosperity with our own development.

How have the relations between the two countries shaped up in recent years?

As the Indian poet Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore put it, "China and India are very old and beloved brothers". China-India friendship dates back over 2,000 years ago. Over the past 20 centuries, there have been numerous tales and legends about the friendly exchanges between two countries. It includes the white horse carrying Buddhist scriptures from India to China, Monk Xuanzang's pilgrimage to the west, and expedition of the Chinese navigator Zheng He. These all are testament to our friendships good neighbours. The ancient Silk Road bustling with merchants and coaches brought such Chinese and Indian inventions as papermaking, sugar making, fishnet and numbers to across the world. We have seized the opportunities of economic globalization and technological revolution and embarked on the fast track of development, which not only greatly improved the livelihood of 2.5 billion people, but also become twin engines for world's economic growth. China and India have learned from each other, and together driven Asia's progress. This year marks the 65th anniversary of establishment of China-India diplomatic relations, and also 70th anniversary of anti-fascist war. The Consulate General held reception and pictorial exhibition focused on the above themes. In addition, during the visit by the Chairman of China National People's Congress, we help a special photo exhibition on Indian Medical Mission to China 77years ago. We also managed to bridge the sister-city-relations between Dunhuang and Aurangabad during Indian PM Modi's visit last May. As Indian government rolls out ambitious programs such as smart city and Make in India, and introduces opening-up and pro-business policy measure, it spells great opportunities for two countries to align our strategies, complement each other and substantiate cooperation.

What is the consulate doing to promote trade between the two countries?

The Chinese consulate has taken several measures to promote the bilateral trade. Firstly, we are devoting our efforts in helping foster closer relations between states (or provinces) of our countries. Secondly, we helped to establish a bridge between business circles in both sides. Thirdly, we have encouraged private Chinese investors to study Indian market, and helped those Indian private companies to invest in China. Personally, I have visited Nagpur, Pune, Nashik, Bangalore, with aim of exploring the investment possibilities. We had several meetings with MIDC, mayors, commissioners to discuss business opportunities for Chinese companies. Lenovo has started local manufacturing of its smart phones in Chennai. Alibaba, Foton, Sany Heavy Industry, Shandong Heavy Industries, Taiyuan Heavy Industries, and Higher Group have already established their Industrial bases here in Maharashtra. Huawei R&D centre in Bangalore could create several-thousand job opportunities for the local youth. Alibaba has 4.5 million on-line vendors in India, more than one tenth of its global total of 40 million. Furthermore it plans to increase its presence in Indian to 10 million vendors in a few years. The Consulate General is now taking an initiative to attract more Chinese Investors to Maharashtra. We are also helping Bank of China to re-enter Indian market at earlier date. All these point to the huge potential in our cooperation as the stream of investment and trade keeps flowing.

How do you find the Chinese manufacturing industry in sync with Indian PM's "Make in India" campaign?

'Make in Maharashtra,' pushed by Devendra Fadnavis, Chief Minister of Maharashtra, is a part of 'Make in India' campaign. When PM Modi visited China last May, I personally accompanied the CM to promote 'Make in Maharashtra' in China. During his short stay in China, he met with almost 100 Chinese business leaders, and introduced the investment environment and opportunities in Maharashtra. In Qingdao, Shandong Province, he ran a road show along with MIDC delegation, pushing Maharashtra as an ideal investment destination for Chinese traders. I really like to salute to his hard work during that tight and hectic schedule. I would do my best to support him in this regard. During PM Modi's visit to China, the first China-India Local Leaders Forum was held in Beijing, and since then Local cooperation is booming, and many bilateral visits have been undertaken by Chief Ministers, governors and local leaders of both countries, including the reciprocate visits by the CM of Maharashtra and the governors or vice governors from such provinces as Guangdong, Shandong, Shanghai, Gansu, Shandong, Fujian, Guizhou. I would like to highlight the natural local partnership between Shandong Province and Maharashtra.

How is the tourism industry between the two countries?

The opening of Nathula Pass early this year is another milestone that helps more Indian Yatra to realize their life-long dream of pilgrim to Kailash Manasarovar. India started e-visa for Chinese tourists at middle of this year, a move that significantly boost tourism and people-to-people exchanges. Over 300,000 Chinese tourists have visited India due to the promotion campaign of "India Tourism Year" in China By the end of this November. The Home Minister of Maharashtra Shriram Shinde, led a delegation that included ten eminent persons from different fields in Maharashtra. The holy water taken from Kailas-Manasarovar was ceremonially poured into River Godavari by CM Devendra Fadnavis at the Simhastha Kumbha in Tryambakeshwar. This "holy water diplomacy" has creatively contributed to the implementation of the consensus reached by H.E. Mr. Xi Jinping, President of the People's Republic of China, and PM Narendra Modi, in a sense of enhancing heart to heart touch and link between our people of both countries.

How many consulates are functional in India? Any plans for more consulates in India?

Currently there are two Consulates functioning, one in Mumbai and the other in Kolkata. The next one is set to open in Chennai.

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