'We are striving towards $5 billion trade with India'
By Shilpa Puri
-Huang Quanheng, Consul-General of China in Mumbai
China has been maintaining a consistent GDP growth for the past many years. What are the factors contributing to this growth?
The 1978-2000 period has seen rapid development in China with an average annual GIMP growth rate of 9.5 per cent.
When it decided to reform its national economic set-up in 1978, the Chinese government embarked on a policy of opening up to the outside world in a planned manner and step-by-step. China has established special economic zones, opened coastal cities to overseas investment, further expanded the open coastal zones into an open costal belt and opened up cities in inland provinces. In addition, free trade zones, state-level economic and technological development zones and new and high-tech industrial development zones were established in large arid medium-sized cities. As these open areas adopt different preferential policies, they play the dual role of "windows" in developing the foreign-oriented economy, generating foreign exchange through exporting products and importing advanced technologies, on one hand, and that of "radiators" in accelerating inland economic development, on the other. The opening-up policy greatly promoted the development of China's foreign trade and utilising foreign capital.
What measures is your country taking to equip itself to face the WTO regime?
After its entry China will face more opportunities even as it faces all kinds of challenges. China's commitments to the WTO are based on an assessment of the Chinese economy itself. China needs to further deepen its reforms and expand its opening-up to meet the needs of the WTO. In order to provide a stable, transparent and predictable legal environment for foreign investors in China, the Chinese government has reviewed and modified 2,300 relevant laws, regulations and documents. China has 20 years of experience in reform and opening-up, the foundation of solid national strength, strong leadership of the Central government and the understanding and support of the whole nation, thus we are confident of fulfilling our due obligations and commitments.
With the WTO, opening up of the agriculture sector will lead to large-scale unemployment, about 11 million in the short and medium term. What is China doing to minimise this negative effect?
One of the most important tasks of China's Tenth Five-Year (2001-2005) Plan is to adjust the national economic structure. China's entry into the WTO accords with this goal. After its entry, China should reasonably adjust the agricultural structure and promote the abilities of agricultural competition on the precondition of ensuring enough food for nearly 1.3 billion people. Under the framework of the WTO, we can provide normal subsidy to agricultural products and provide domestic support; we should also pay attention to export processed agricultural products. China's automobile industry also faces the pressure of reducing tariffs. But we believe that if it can adjust its structure and optimise combination, it might be a rebirth for its automobile industry. The service industry will be open on a large scale according to our commitment. At the same time, the structural adjustment of this sector is also one of the important fields of our reform.
Where does Indo-China economic relations stand today? How do you see this relationship in future?
Viewing the development of bilateral trade in the last 10 years, Indo-China relations have kept momentum. The total trade volume between China and India in 1991 was only $265 million and in 2000 it reached $2.91 4 billion, up by nearly 11 times. But, what I want to point out here is that though the increase in bilateral trade between China and India is relatively rapid, it is incompatible with the general economic strengths and the demands of the huge markets of the two countries. Both China and India have vast territory and abundant resources with huge population and big markets. Thus, there is great potential to tap.
I believe bilateral trade would reach a new stage in the next three years. We are striving towards a total trade volume target of $5 billion.
With China considering FDI in India, do you see growing Chinese interests in this country, especially in the infrastructure sector?
China has already accumulated vast experience in the infrastructure sector and it also has the ability to contract projects abroad. China is interested in participating in Indian infrastructure, especially in hydro-electric power stations, thermal power plants, bridges and highways. China's concerned companies have already had some successful cooperation with their Indian counterparts.