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Bridging The Gap
Amid border row, Chinese city seeks India's participation in expo
  Tuesday 11 July, 2017
Amid border row, Chinese city seeks India\'s participation in expo

Amid the current border standoff between India and China, a Chinese city is seeking India's participation in an international exposition while a Chinese Embassy official here allayed fears of bilateral economic ties being affected.

Organisers of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road International Expo to be held in the city of Dongguan from September 21 to 24 sought India's active participation at a promotional conference here late on Monday evening.

"China and India are closely tied through the Himalayas," Chen Qingsong, Deputy Secretary-General of the Dongguan Municipal Government.

"We thank you for your support to the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road International Expo," Chen said while inviting Indian exhibitors to the 2017 edition of the event.

From 13 Indian participants in the event's first edition in 2014, the figure rose to 104 in 2016, he said and added that in 2016, Indian pavilion drew a lot of attention for its tourism exhibition.

Chen's comments came in the backdrop of Indian and Chinese troops being engaged in a tense standoff along the Sikkim sector of the international border.

Soldiers of both countries came to a face-to-face position in the Doklam area of Bhutan where a large construction contingent of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) entered on June 16 to apparently build a road there.

Both India and Bhutan have said that China was trying to unilaterally change a status quo that has been maintained at the Bhutan-China-India trijunction.

Amid this situation, Chinese President Xi Jinping interacted with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an informal meeting of the leaders of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nations on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, last week and reportedly praised India's economic progress.

At Monday's event, Li Rongrong, Second Secretary in the Economic and Commercial Counsellor's Office of the Chinese Embassy in India, allayed fears of India-China ties being affected given the border standoff

"Both India and China enjoy long cooperation as our lands are connected," Li said.

She said Chinese investments in India rose from $219 crore in 2000 to $7,000 crore in 2016.

In 2016 alone, Li said, foreign direct investment from China to India was over $100 crore.

She also referred to the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative of President Xi and said it resonated with India's major infrastructure projects like the East-West Corridor and the Indian Railways' Diamond Quadrilateral.

The Maritime Silk Road is a part of OBOR and given that the Indian government skipped the OBOR Forum organised by Beijing in May voicing territorial concerns, there were speculations about India's participation in the Dongguan event.

Promoting the host city of the Expo, Chen said that in 2016, the trade volume between Dongguan and India stood at $2.37 billion and this rose by 172.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017 year-on-year to $970 million.

Stating that Guangdong Huawei Technologies has invested $300 million in India, he said that one of every five mobile phones sold in the world was manufactured in Dongguan.

The India-China Economic and Cultural Council (ICEC) signed a deal with the Dongguan municipal government for the expo during Monday's event.

Mohammad Sadiq, Secretary-General of the ICEC, said that the current border standoff was an issue arising out of a "misunderstanding" and that it would pass off quickly.

He assured that despite an advisory issued by the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, all Chinese businesspersons in India were safe as before.

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