Did China’s top Communist and government officials size up the calibre and political and leadership skills of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to that country from November 8 to 12? Also, are the Indian Left parties upset with Beijing for giving Modi so much importance?
In fact, actor Shabana Azmi, known for close Leftist links, is said to have called up a senior Left leader to find out whether they were doing something about it.
She was, of course, told that Modi’s visit was something between two governments and Indian Communists should make no noise.
It was Modi’s third visit as Chief Minister to that country, and his fourth as a BJP leader.
The Left’s unstated irritation is that, despite being targeted by them for the 2002 riots, Modi managed to impress his hosts.
In fact, Modi’s decision to focus on China has a lot to do with what he feels is the West’s “discriminatory” attitude towards him. The US denied him a visa a few years ago, going by the campaign mounted by human rights activists.
But the Government of the People’s Republic of China and the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) accorded “unprecedented importance and highest level of protocol” to Modi, and even going beyond the established norms.
Special arrangements were made for his reception, escort, banquets, visits, security and high level of meetings. What more, Modi was received at the Great Hall of People, where normally Heads of the State or Head of the National Governments are received and accorded such honour, say Gujarat officials.
Modi’s visit generated a huge interest among business and industrial community as well as the Chinese political leadership. Government-controlled media in China gave his visit adequate coverage.
Modi’s close aides say the Chinese, being diligent to the core and having seen all round development and spectacular growth of Gujarat wanted to understand him in the context of his emerging a top BJP leader after 2014 polls in India.
In China, all meetings and protocol are decided by their top Communist Party of China. In various meetings and banquets, it was obvious that the top leadership of China was keen to have dialogue, exchange ideas and build relationship with Modi, Gujarat officials said.
According to Modi, both the Central and provincial governments in China acknowledged the rapid strides being made by Gujarat under Modi. “Chinese companies are keen to have trade links, invest in various sectors particularly through joint ventures,” a Gujarat official said.
At the very outset of his visit, the Vice Minister of International Department, Cheng Fengxiang, had an official meeting with Modi and hosted a welcome banquet in his honour.
Later, Modi had a meeting with Wang Gang, Vice Chairman of the China People’s Political Consultative Conference, and a member of the Polit Bureau of Communist Party of China (CPC), at Great Hall of People and had discussions on a wide ranging topics.
Wang Gang praised the rapid socio-economic development of Gujarat. He praised the leadership provided by Modi in improving the socio-economic conditions of all people ensuring double digit growth, which is a huge achievement.
The top-ranking Communist leader congratulated Modi for his stupendous achievements. He emphasized that both India and China can share their experiences and learn a lot from each other. He took keen interest in Gujarat and its socio-economic development. He emphasized that China was keen to work with Gujarat for mutual economic co-operation, according to Gujarat officials.
In China, Mayors are Chief Executives of big City States like Beijing and Shanghai. The Mayors of Beijing and Shanghai, who are top CPC leaders and top executives of their provinces as well as the Party Secretary of the Sichuan province, had comprehensive meetings with the Chief Minister.
Modi had a delegation level meeting with the Mayor of Beijing Mr. Guo Jinlong. He gave a detailed status of Gujarat and its fast growing cities as well as growing urbanization, which provides excellent opportunity for cooperation and collaboration.
In his meeting with top Government and CPC leadership in China, in addition to economic and business relations, Modi did raise contentious issues of prolonged detention of 22 Indians (Gujaratis) in a Chinese jail; wrong maps depicted by China showing part of Arunachal Pradesh in China, and related issues; presence of China in POK, which has security implications as in many POK areas, terrorist training centres are being run by the Pakistan.
Modi was told that China would decide on these issues, keeping in mind its “friendly relations” with India.
But the important agenda of Modi in China was investment promotion in Gujarat. He showcased ‘Brand Gujarat’ to Chinese top leadership and its business community.
Two business seminars — one each at Beijing and Chengdu — were organised. About 180 Chinese business leaders attended the Beijing seminar and another 200 leaders of China attended the Chengdu meet. In both the seminars, extensive presentations and B-to-B meeting were held.
Modi particularly discussed the possibility of Chinese investment in Gujarat, and China’s participation in Vibrant Gujarat–2013. He invited the Chinese business community and public enterprises to participate in Vibrant Gujarat Global Investor Summit–2013.
He invited Chinese industry for partnership and joint venture with Gujarat industries. At the same time, the opportunities for Gujarat-based companies in China in sectors like pharma, IT & ITES, engineering goods, tourism, agro-processing were also discussed in detail.
In a bid to break the language and cultural barriers, Modi discussed with the Chinese officials issues like opening a Mandarin language school in Gujarat, connectivity between Gujarat and Chinese cities, and promotion of sports and tourism, particularly Buddhist tourism.
Modi, accompanied by the entire delegation, also visited the Shanghai Deep water Port, an engineering marvel. Gujarat being a leader in port sector has immense possibilities in the future. The Chief Minister also discussed the Kapasar project with authorities and explored the possible collaboration.
Modi visited Shanghai General Motors Company and Huawei Telecom Company. He also led the delegation to visit a village in Sichuan province which has been remarkably rehabilitated after the devastating earthquake of May 2008. Here, the catastrophic event has been converted into an opportunity with lasting effect.
China’s Director General of the International Department along with other senior officials accompanied Modi during the entire visit right from his arrival at Beijing airport on November 8 to his departure from Chengdu Airport on November 12.
Indian Ambassador in China, the Consul Generals of Shanghai and Gongzhou and other officers of Indian Embassy accompanied the Chief Minister during his various programmes in China.
What are the specific proposals from China for Gujarat?
Huawei plans to set up manufacturing base, start tele-presence in static/ mobile format on pilot basis, set up R&D centre with specific focus on e-Governance, establish Future technology solutions lab. Other issues viz. Data centre setup, Smart City project for Ahmedabad/ Gandhinagar, Government data base in Cloud, Linkage with Educational Institutions, etc. will also be considered by Huawei.
India – China connectivity: There is a possibility to re-route Chengdu – Bengaluru flight via Ahmedabad; also better connectivity from Ahmedabad to Beijing and Shanghai, will be explored.
Metro/ High-speed Train: China Rail Engineering to lead a delegation to Gujarat in next few months to assess the potential and scope for participation.
Mass-housing: Affordable and sustainable housing technology to create affordable mass housing and make urban areas slum-free. Gujarat will consider sending teams comprising design/ architecture people to visit 2008 earthquake reconstruction area for its reconstruction, long-term sustainability and better livelihood, disaster management, digital display, etc.
Valued addition in Agro-forestry: A Professor from PAAF (Participatory Approaches in Agriculture and Forestry) to visit Gujarat for their input.
Tourism and Sports: Cultural groups from China for next Patang Utsav and Navratri festivals. Shanghai Institute for Contemporary Development Studies for International Enterprises to be linked to a University in Gujarat for similar kind of research. China Sporting Goods Federation to lead a 20–member delegation in June to Gujarat; they need to be connected to sporting complexes for cost-effective sports equipment manufacturer in Gujarat.
Kalpasar project: Gujarat to consult the Shanghai (Yangshan) Deep Water Port and explore technological options for the Kalpasar Project.
Student Exchange: More and more students should be sponsored through scholarships. Triple the cultural and student exchange in next 2 years.
Chinese language teaching: Mandarin language teaching and learning to be promoted in a big way. Chinese language courses to be introduced to various Universities, adding special courses for travel agents and business people.