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Leveraging the Leading Role of Think Tanks and Promoting Sino-Indian Practical Cooperation


Speech by Li Wei at the Second DRC-NITI Dialogue Meeting on Nov. 16, 2016

Respected Vice Chairman Panagariya, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning. I am very glad to be here in New Delhi, a beautiful city with a long history, to attend the DRC-NITI dialogue meeting between the Development Research Center of China’s State Council and the National Institution for Transforming India. Last year, we held the first dialogue meeting on prospects of economic cooperation between China and India and remaining issues to be addressed and the meeting achieved gratifying results. On October 7 this year, the Fourth Sino-Indian Strategic Economic Dialogue was successfully convened with fruitful outcomes and the two sides signed a package of cooperation agreements. Later on October 15, China’s President Xi Jinping came to India to attend the Eighth BRICS Summit, and made thorough exchanges with Premier Modi on strengthening cooperation in politics, economy and trade, culture and other areas between the two ancient civilizations. President Xi stressed that exchanges between the two Parties, local governments, thinks tanks, culture institutions and media should be strengthened. In this connection, I would like to note that it is of significant importance for us to hold the present think tank dialogue meeting to discuss global economic performance, economic transformation and structural reform, Sino-Indian economic cooperation and other issues. Hereby, on behalf of DRC, I would like to express my warm congratulations on the successful opening of this meeting. I would also like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all guests present here.

It is known to all that it has been over eight years since the outbreak of the international financial crisis in 2008, but world economic recovery still remains unsteady with no clear future. Added to it are lackluster economic growth, slump trade, investment disputes, aggravated trade protectionism, and a turbulent financial market, thus spreading pessimism among people. In the past eight years, China has contributed an average of over one quarter to world economic growth, and India’s economic growth is twice that of the world average in recent three years. Therefore, China and India have become the mainstay for maintaining steady world economic growth and the key engines propelling global recovery.

China and India can keep a rapid growth compared with other countries mainly because of two reasons. On one hand, with regard to our current development stage and as developing countries with large populations, China and India are both successful pursuant economies relating to industrialization and urbanization with great development potential. On the other hand, more importantly, leaders of both countries attach high importance to economic development and reform and have adopted a series effective reform measures.

Since the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, China has been promoting the Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy. Guided by the top-level design for the new round of reform and opening-up, we advanced the rule of law, and improved market order to realize a just, equitable, democratic and rule-of-law-based social environment. As for opening to the outside world, China has launched pilot free trade zones, expanded the opening of the service sector and introduced the new management model of “pre-establishment national treatment plus negative list”. At the Fifth Plenary Session of the CPC Central Committee, China proposed the concept of “innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared” development, which set the direction and the principle for economic transformation and structural adjustment. China has also acted proactively in terms of international cooperation and global governance by proposing the joint-building “One Belt and One Road” initiative, conducting international production capacity cooperation, taking the lead in the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the BRICs’ New Development Bank, and holding successfully the G20 Summit.

India also places top priority on regional economic cooperation. It has brought up the “Monsoon Plan” and the “Spice Trail” initiative, implemented the “Made in India” Strategy, improved the environment for utilizing foreign capital, plans to increase the manufacturing share from 15% to 25% in total GDP. Meanwhile, India has vigorously promoted infrastructure construction, improved the basis for economic development, and brought up a series of action plans such as “Digital India”, “Skill India”, “Start-up India”, and “Clean India”.

China and India enjoy common understanding on development concepts, their strategic plans are consistent with each other and their policies are mutually beneficial. They could complement each other in construction projects for win-win results. The “Spice Trail” and “Monsoon Plan” proposed by India are consistent with China’s “One Belt and One Road” initiative; the “Made in India” raised by India coincides with “Made in China 2025”; and the “Looking Eastwards” and “Walking Eastwards” advanced by India echoes with China’s intensified effort to open up to western regions. China has accumulated abundant experience in infrastructure construction, industrial park development, the new-type urbanization construction and other fields and stands ready to assist India in accelerating its industrialization and urbanization drive. Meanwhile, Indian software is known as the “world office”; its developed IT industry will help propel China’s strategy of “Internet Plus”. The population of China and India is over one third of the world’s population and contributes around one fifth of the world aggregate GDP. It can be said that Sino-Indian cooperation enjoys great potential and the joint efforts made by China and India will create a better future.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There is an ancient Chinese saying: “Empty talk harms the nation and practical action helps it thrive.” India also has a similar idiom: “Even if you have a good luck, you should not relax your efforts, otherwise you cannot get oil even from sesame.” The promising future for Sino-Indian cooperation requires practical efforts from both sides. Currently there remain some problems in bilateral cooperation such as the political mutual-trust needs to be strengthened, the development strategies need to be specifically matched, smooth trade needs to be enhanced according to bilateral actual demand, and a more efficient mode for coordinating macro-economic policies needs to be improved. All these problems require more exchanges of views by both sides so as to promote the building of a cooperation mechanism. The think tanks of China and India should live up to the expectations of our two peoples. We should play as advisers, assistants and bridges to our governments and formulate appropriate plans and policies to make our efforts coordinate with each other so that we could share common experience and better communicate the wishes of our two peoples. The National Institution for Transforming India and the Development Research Center of the State Council of China are both high-end official think tanks and we should play the leading role in bilateral think-tank communications and cooperation. I would like to take this opportunity to make the following suggestions.

First, we need to address bilateral relations from a broader perspective and with a long-term point of view. As big states in the world, the development of both countries will influence the entire world order and the development of human civilization. Based on the age-old historical traditions, ancient civilizations and time-honored cordial cooperation, China and India are able to properly manage their differences with their wisdom, identify common interests, strengthen strategic coordination in global economic governance and regional economic cooperation, form a mutually-beneficial and win-win cooperation model and make more contributions to building a fair, just, inclusive and efficient world order.

Second, we need to focus on common development tasks and improve bilateral coordination for development strategy. Based on respective economic development and focusing on national major strategies and plans, China and India need to sort out the issues relating to supply and demand and coordinate these issues through dialogues, consultations and joint research. We could launch cooperation plans and programs through mutual assistance to advance development of each other so as to promote the realization of the common strategic goals for development.

Third, we need to strengthen joint research and work together to build the mechanism for cooperation. Sino-Indian cooperation could be advanced through a multi-level, multi-sector and systematic model. The think tanks in both countries need to make top-level design about their bilateral cooperation mechanism and improve this systematic and synergetic mechanism viewing respectively from the globe, regions, countries, provinces and enterprises’ perspectives, as well as from the actual requirements raised by different sectors including economy and trade, infrastructure, finance, urbanization, education and culture.

Fourth, we need to highlight our common problems and jointly offer solutions. China and India need to be more concerned about economic transformation and structural adjustment, poverty alleviation and disaster relief, regional stability, the fight against terrorism and the promotion of South-South cooperation. We need to abide by the multilateral trade system and remove trade barriers through consultations and positive countermeasures. China and India need to strive to advance the liberalization and facilitation for bilateral trade and investment for our common development.

Fifth, we need to play a leading role in jointly promoting practical cooperation. In this connection, DRC and NITI need to play their due role in leading the in-depth exchanges and dialogues between think tanks of China and India and building bridges and platforms for communications and cooperation with the involvement of people from the government, the academia and the business circle of both countries. Currently, DRC is proactively preparing the establishment of the international development knowledge center proposed by President Xi Jinping in September 2015 at the UN Development Summit. We sincerely welcome Indian thinks tanks to join us in such an effort to strengthen experience and knowledge sharing among all countries.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

President Xi Jinping said that if China and India speak with one voice, that will attract the world notice. Premier Modi pointed out that India and China have the responsibility to join hands and build the 21st century into an Asian century. History has proved that China and India had treated each other with mutual respect and equality. In ancient times, China was known as “Zhen Dan” in India, meaning the sunrising place in the east while India was named as “Tianzhu” in China, referring to the birthplace of Lord Buddha. The peaceful coexistence and mutual learning of the two great nations have made great contributions to human civilization.

Currently, the Sino-Indian cooperation serves as the ballast for regional peace, stability, economic prosperity as well as the mainstay for building a fair, reasonable, inclusive and efficient world order for achieving strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. We hope that think tanks from both countries could, with our wisdom and joint efforts, overcome difficulties and make contributions to building strong economic engines for world economic development. With that, I wish this meeting a complete success.

Note: Li Wei, research fellow and Minister of the Development Research Center of the State Council.