(Shri Vikas Swarup): Good evening and
welcome to this briefing on Prime Minister’s forthcoming visit to China,
Mongolia and South Korea. I have with me today Foreign Secretary Dr. S.
Jaishankar. We have Mr. Anil Wadhwa, Secretary (East). And of course I have Mr.
Pradeep Rawat, Joint Secretary (EA) who coincidentally happens to handle all
The format will be, we will have Foreign
Secretary making an opening statement on the Prime Minister’s visit to China,
then we will have Secretary (East) explaining details on Prime Minister’s visit
to Mongolia and South Korea, and thereafter we will open up to questions only
on these three visits.
With that, the floor is yours, Sir.
Foreign Secretary (Dr.
S. Jaishankar): Prime Minister would be visiting
China, Mongolia and South Korea from the 14th to the 19thof this month. This is his first visit to China as Prime Minister. I think most
of you know that he has been there earlier when he was Chief Minister. I
believe it is his first to Mongolia but it is a first ever by a Prime Minister
of India to Mongolia. What we will do today is, I will speak on the China part
of the visit, and my colleague Mr. Wadhwa will speak on the Mongolia and South
Korea legs of the visit.
Where China is concerned, Prime
Minister’s visit will begin with his arrival in Xian. Xian is the hometown of
President Xi Jinping. The Prime Minister would be having his summit meeting
with President Xi in Xian that afternoon. He will be visiting some places of
cultural interest in Xian. Some of them are very famous sites which are
associated with Chinese history and civilisation.
He would travel from Xian to Beijing
on the 14th late in the evening. On the 15th he would be
formally welcomed in Beijing by Premier Li Keqiang. He will be holding talks
with the Premier and his delegation. We will also be signing a number of
agreements at the conclusion of the talks.
One noteworthy feature of the Prime
Minister’s stay in Beijing would be the first meeting of the India-China State
and Provincial Leaders’ Forum. So, we will be having Chief Ministers and Mayors
present on that occasion, both Indian and Chinese. There will be some cultural
events, some of them quite interesting, in Beijing. Among them a Yoga-Tai Chi
joint event at the Temple of Heaven.
Then the Prime Minister moves on to
Shanghai. That is primarily a business stop. He would be having interaction
with Chinese CEOs. He is addressing a business gathering. We expect business
agreements to be signed. He will also be visiting Fudan University and
inaugurating a Centre for Gandhian Studies there. So, that is broadly the
In terms of the relationship, I think
most of you are familiar with the bilateral relationship with China. You may
expect that a full range of political issues would be discussed – bilateral
ties, regional issues, multilateral issues. Not just political matters but
economic issues will also come up, issues relating to trade, to investment, to
our collaboration on infrastructure projects, and I think a broader set of sort
of people-to-people contact related issues, tourism, travel, local level
In the course of the visit, other than
the formal occasions the Prime Minister would be delivering one public address
at the Tsinghua University in Beijing. He will also be addressing a community
function in Shanghai. So, that is broadly the China leg. I would request my
colleague Mr. Wadhwa to speak about the other two countries.
Secretary (East) (Shri
Anil Wadhwa): Let me begin with Mongolia and the
programme for Mongolia. The programme for Mongolia starts on the 17thof May and the first stop for the Prime Minister would be the Gandan Monastery
where there would be a gift of the Bodhi Tree sampling to the Chief Abbott of
the Monastery. Following that we have the normal talks with the Prime Minister
of Mongolia after which there would be the usual signing ceremony of the
agreements several of which are going to be signed.
There is a rare honour being bestowed on
our Prime Minister because this is for the first time on a holiday the
Parliament of Mongolia is going to allow a foreign leader to speak and address
the membership there. And of course this will be preceded by a meeting with the
Speaker of the Mongolian Parliament.
Following the address to the Mongolian
Parliament, we have a meeting with the President of Mongolia, and a luncheon
banquet which will be hosted by the President of Mongolia. There is a ceremony
for laying a foundation stone for a proposed Information Technology Centre
which follows thereafter.
The Prime Minister will also attend a
mini Naadam festival which includes a display of horse racing, traditional
wrestling and archery. This performance will be in an open area. After that he
would also address a community reception in Ulan Bator. This is followed by a
dinner banquet. After that the Prime Minister would depart Mongolia. It is a
day long programme.
As far as the agreements with Mongolia
are concerned, there would be a cooperation in the field of application of
nuclear technology for curing of cancer in the National Cancer Centre of
Mongolia for which we are gifting a Bhabhatron. There would be a cooperation in
solar and wind energy. And also we are setting up a joint Indo-Mongolian School
in Ulan Bator which is a proposal which has been talked about for quite some
years now but it has fructified now.
There will be cooperation in the field
of traditional systems of medicine and homeopathy, also a linkage which will be
established for direct contacts, regular contacts between the Foreign Offices
of the two countries, National Security Councils of the two countries,
cooperation in cyber security, border management, and of course the cooperation
in culture. We will also be signing an agreement possibly, an air services
agreement, between the two countries, as well as on animal health and dairy,
besides the training of diplomats. These are the broad areas of cooperation.
What is most important is that this is
the first ever visit of Indian Prime Minister to Mongolia, and it takes place
in the backdrop of celebrations of the 25th year of democracy in
Mongolia and 60 years of our diplomatic relations.
With Mongolia of course we have a strong
linkage of Buddhism and democracy. We were the first country outside the Soviet
bloc to establish diplomatic relations with Mongolia. So, this will be a good
occasion for stock taking, identifying new priority areas in our bilateral
I would also like to mention here that
we issued a Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership in 2009 with
Mongolia. And a very important agreement was signed in 1994, it is called the
Treaty of Friendly Relations and Cooperation, which we will relook at and
Our economic engagement with Mongolia is
minimal but there is excellent potential for cooperation in the minerals
sector. Mongolia is a mineral rich country in coking coal, copper, rare earths
and uranium. We already have a civil nuclear agreement which provides for
uranium exports to India once the domestic laws in Mongolia permit prospecting
and mining. And also there is desire on both sides to take this forward. We
will also explore possibilities of imports of Cashmere wool and also in the
There is good cooperation as far as
training with Mongolia is concerned. There are 150 slots every year which are
earmarked to Mongolia under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation
programme. Besides that, of course we also provide 40 scholarships per year to
Mongolian nationals for higher studies in India. Two to four students also come
to study Hindi at our Kendriya Hindi Sansthan in Agra every year.
Hindi films are very popular in
Mongolia. The serials like Mahabharat, dubbed in Mongolian, have been telecast
regularly on Ulan Bator television. Also we have regular exchanges of cultural
troupes between the two countries.
Let me now quickly move on to the
Republic of Korea. As far as Republic of Korea is concerned, Prime Minister
will arrive there on the 18th of May. He will depart on the morning
of the 18th of May and arrive in the Republic of Korea. As soon as
he arrives, there would be a wreath-laying ceremony at the Seoul National
Thereafter there would be an Indian
community reception where about at least 1500 members of the Indian community are
expected to attend. Thereafter there will be an official welcoming ceremony
followed by official bilateral talks between the two countries, followed by the
signing of agreements, a press statement, and thereafter a banquet dinner which
will be hosted by the President Park Geun-hye in the evening.
On the next day which is the 19thof May, the Prime Minister would participate in the 6th Asian
Leadership Conference which is being organised by the Chosun Ilbo group, and it
would also have the presence of President Park Geun-hye as well as our Prime
Thereafter there would be a visit to Cheonggyecheon
Stream which is a stream which was cleaned up and it is a model for similar
projects around the world. The Mayor of Seoul, the Minister of Construction,
etc., will accompany the Prime Minister for a quick tour and also a look at the
There would be a business event
thereafter and there would be an India-Republic of Korea CEOs Forum, which
actually would be attended also again by President Park Guen-hye besides the
Prime Minister. This will be followed by some meetings with the top CEOs of
Korean companies which are willing to invest in India or have already invested
There would be an interaction with
Friends of India in South Korea as well. As you know, there are a number of
institutions there which have been associated with us for a very long time and
have worked very hard to bring up this relationship to the level that it is at
There would be finally a visit to the
Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard given the fact that shipbuilding is an
important area of cooperation between the two countries, for which the Prime
Minister will have to travel to Ulsan from where he would depart back to New
Delhi. That is in short the programme in the Republic of Korea.
As far as the areas of cooperation there
are concerned, I think I have already mentioned to you that there is an
emphasis on our bilateral economic and trade cooperation. This is a very
important visit from that perspective. Therefore, besides the signature of a
Double Taxation Avoidance Convention, there would be cooperation which would be
looked at in the areas of shipping and logistics, audiovisual coproduction, in
the area of transport, highways, etc., cooperation in electric power
development in new energy industries, also arrangements between the National
Security Councils of the two countries, enhancement of ties between the youth
of the two countries, as well as looking at how best we can utilise credit on
both sides for new projects that could be undertaken.
In this regard let me just mention very
quickly that this is the first state visit to be exchanged between India and
the Republic of Korea since the change of government in India. The Prime
Minister and President Park have already spoken to each other, they have met on
the sidelines of international meetings. Recently we also had a visit by the
Speaker of the Republic of Korea from 7th to 10th of May.
Raksha Mantri was in Republic of Korea from 15th to 18thof April.
With Korea again we have historical ties
through Buddhism. And Koreans fondly remember Tagore’s poem characterising
Korea as the Lamp of the East. We have a number of historical linkages, the
most important one being the marriage of a Princess from Ayodhya who is
supposed to have married a King from Korea in 48 AD, and therefore a number of
South Koreans call themselves relatives of Indian nationals as well. Along with
this, we have shared values of democracy and liberalism besides the common legacy
of Buddhism and also our cultural contacts.
Bilateral trade is doing well at about
USD 16 billion. There are 300 Korean companies who invested about USD 3 billion
in India. They employ about 40,000 workers here. Similarly our own investment
in Republic of Korea is close to USD 2 billion, and our industry looks forward
to greater access in the Republic of Korea to pharmaceutical and IT products.
So, we look forward very much to strengthening our cooperation in the areas of
shipbuilding, in infrastructure, IT, science and technology, also improving on
people-to-people contacts and space cooperation, etc.
Most importantly, I think it is
important that ‘Make, Market and Research in India’ is given emphasis during
the visit. Thank you.
Official Spokesperson:With that, the floor is now open. I will just set some ground rules. Given the
fact that we have a full house and there are limitations on the time that Foreign
Secretary and Secretary (East) can spare, please restrict yourself to just one
Question (Seema Guha,
Freelance Journalist): Foreign Secretary, I
just want to ask you what is India’s view on the Chinese silk route and
maritime route initiative? Do we want to join it? What are our views on that?
Are we welcoming it?
Foreign Secretary:It is their initiative, so I think it is not for us to welcome it or not
welcome it. It is something which is there on the table. To the best of our
knowledge we have not really had a detailed discussion on this subject.
Phadnis, The Hindu Business Line): I just wanted
to check, you mentioned that in Shanghai the Prime Minister will be at a
meeting of CEOs and we are expecting some business agreements to be signed. Is
there any clarity on whether there will be agreements between the governments
or there will be industrialists from India signing agreements with
industrialists in China?
Foreign Secretary:My understanding is that there will be inter-governmental agreements, those
would be signed in Beijing; and the business agreements would be signed in
Shanghai at the business event.
Question (Naz Asghar,
United News of India): Do you expect any
progress on the border issue during the Prime Minister’s visit to China?
Foreign Secretary:I think our expectations are that all important issues pertaining to bilateral,
regional and multilateral issues would be discussed. So you can reasonably
imagine that this would be covered. But exactly what would be the progress or
outcomes, I would not be in a position to predict.
Question (Asif, In
ke andar jo hamaare agreements ho rahe hain, yeh kitne agreements ho rahe hain
total? Aur aapne abhi kaha ki uranium bhi unke paas hai. Toy uspar bhi kuchh
Secretary (East): Jahan tak uranium
agreement ka savaal hai, 2009 mein voh agreement already sign ho chuki hai.
Uske exports tabhi start ho sakte hain jab mining rights khul jayein aur Mongolian
government usko export karne ke kaabil ban jaye. Toh hamaara cooperation
agreement already in place hai. Aur hum log science and technology mein
Mongolia ke saath kayi dusre fields mein bhi kaam kar rahe hain.
Jaisa ki main ne aapko bataaya, us mein cancer research
hai, nuclear applications hai, information technology hai. Toh in areas mein
unke saath kaam kar rahe hain. Aur abhi tak main aapko exact number toh nahin
de sakta kyon ki abhi tak jab hum yahan par baat kar rahe hain toh kuchh
agreements abhi bhi finalise ho rahe hain. Lekin substantial number of
agreements sign honge.
Question (Ranjit Kumar,
Navbharat Times): China has not yet
extended support to India for India’s entry into various nuclear control
regimes. Would the Prime Minister be raising these issues when he talks to the
Prime Minister of China?
Foreign Secretary:The issue of, and this is not just China it is something which is with many
countries, their supporting our entry into the four export control regimes is
something which often comes up in discussions because it is a goal which has a
certain value for us in the near term especially. So it is conceivable it could
Question (Manish Jha,
India TV): Jis
samay Chinese President yahan aaye thei toh hamaare Videsh Mantri ne kaha tha
ki hum jaise One China Policy ka samman karte hain vaise hi unhein One India Policy
ko samman karna chahiye. Kya is baar jab Prime Minister jayenge toh usi firm
stand ke saath jayenge ki One India policy ke tahat hi baat hogi ya sirf
business aur culture ki baat hogi?
Foreign Secretary:Joint Statement niklega toh mere khyal seyou will be to see it for yourself.
Question (Vineeta, The
Pioneer): You talked about the first leadership
forum of Chief Ministers of India and China. Who are the Chief Ministers going
and what is the concept?
Foreign Secretary:The concept is that it is possible to cooperate between countries at different
levels. You can cooperate at a national, central level but there will be many
issues where you would have cooperation. You can have cooperation at the
Provincial level, you can have cooperation at the city level. So with China we
actually have some history where there has been an exchange of visits at the
State level. A number of Chief Ministers have been to China, a number of their Chief
Minister equivalents have been to India, and Prime Minister himself had
actually gone to China as part of that programme.
Now what we are trying to do is to
create a forum where Chief Ministers and Mayors, because those are the two
operative levels in a sense of people who travel, are able to meet regularly
with counterparts and see how they can develop those linkages. Many countries
have used this very successfully. If you see China and Japan, China-US, Europe,
this is a mechanism which has worked very well. So we think if it has worked
well with other people and we made progress, it is perhaps a good idea to make
it into a sort of standing forum.
In terms of the Chief Ministers, I think
the Chief Minister of Gujarat and Maharashtra are the two Chief Ministers who
are likely to be there.
Question (Stacy, Hong
Kong Phoenix TV): We see the trade
deficit is a huge problem for India. Now we see the trade deficit is over USD
48 billion, and this time according to the Chinese Ambassador Le Yucheng, Modi
would sign around USD 10 billion investments during this visit. USD 10 billion
is not a small amount, but compared with the huge trade deficit actually there
is a big difference. How do you read the gap?
Foreign Secretary:You want me to give you a trade solution or you want me to comment on the
Question (Stacy, Hong
Kong Phoenix TV): I want to know how
India sees the huge difference between the trade deficit and the investment you
have so far received from China.
Foreign Secretary:With China the trade deficit has two answers – one is on the trade side, one is
on the investment side. On the trade side, we think it is completely
conceivable that China imports more from India. There are many areas where
India is globally competitive but somehow we have not been able to be
successful in the Chinese market. Two very often cited examples are Indian
pharmaceuticals and Indian IT enabled services. Both these are areas where
India has a very successful global footprint, but that footprint has not
extended to China. Even on something much less technology-embedded like say
agricultural products, we have really struggled for a number of years to gain
access to the Chinese market. So I think part of the solution to trade has to
be found by more enlightened regulatory practices which would create a better
The other part of it relates to
investment where it is a general assumption that when you have investment,
investments have an impact on trade, that they generate trade flows backwards.
But what I would say is that even in investment it is good to have more two-way
investment. Clearly more investment would help trade, but more trade would be
better for trade.
Mandhana, The Wall Street Journal):I wonder if you expect the issue of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to
come up in talks particularly as it might relate to Kashmir?
Foreign Secretary:We will let you know if that happens.
Roche, Mint): My question is with reference to POSCO.
I am just wondering if this trip is likely to see any breakthrough on that
because it is a project which has been pending for a long time for various
reasons including land acquisition. Any progress?
Secretary (East):As far as POSCO is concerned there has been considerable progress which has
been made recently. The POSCO company authorities, relevant Ministries and
State Government of Odisha are in regular touch with each other, they are
having a regular dialogue. POSCO is one of the projects which is there but then
the company of course as other projects in India as you know which are also
making progress. Of course these are all ongoing issues, so they will figure in
talks or discussions. If there is something which happens by way of a
breakthrough, of course it will be evident.
Question (Mukesh Kaushik,
United News of India): When President Xi
visited India in September, Prime Minister Modi suggested that clarification of
LAC is a must to move on boundary issue. Has there been any forward movement on
that front? And a related question, would the Northern Army Commander be a part
of the Prime Minister’s delegation or would he be travelling to China
Foreign Secretary:The last round of border discussions took place when the Special
Representatives met in March. That was the 18th round, it was the first round
after this Government came into office. What is happening on the border is
discussions take place but until and unless they reach a stage when there is a
degree of finality about it, generally you do not give interim readouts publicly.
In terms of the Prime Minister’s delegation,
normally Prime Minister’s delegations do not include military officers and that
is not the case on this occasion.
Lahiri, Sangbad Pratidin): Whenever the Chinese
and India leadership meets, after they issue the Joint Statement we find a
paragraph on BCIM Corridor. What is the status of that corridor? Would there be
forward movement on that in this visit?
Foreign Secretary:The BCIM Corridor, my recollection was agreed to about two years ago. That is
my broad recollection. I think it is still at a stage when conceptual
discussions are going on. So I am not sure whether we really have anything new
to report on this. I think the progress so far, it was agreed that we would
create a Study Group. So I think the Study Group is still working on it.
Thapar, NewsX): During his recent visit to
Pakistan, President Xi Jinping had announced huge infrastructure projects
through Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. What is India’s position on China constructing
infrastructure projects in the occupied territory? Is India okay by it?
Foreign Secretary:The matter has been taken up with the Chinese Government through diplomatic
Kumar, Business Economist): Will the issues of Dalai
Lama and Arunachal be discussed or will those issues be left in a very
Foreign Secretary:Do not ask me to predict what would be discussed and what would not be
discussed. I think bilateral relations and their progress, their prospects, their
challenges, these will naturally come up. But I think at this stage if you were
to ask me would issue X would be discussed, it is very hard for me to give you
a yes or no answer.
Upadhyay, IBN): Much has been discussed about the
e-visa facility. Will there be any breakthrough on this because Chinese have
been asking about the e-visa facility being extended to Chinese citizens?
Foreign Secretary:The e-visa facility is something which we are rolling out as a calibrated
programme. We had a few countries at the start, we did a few more, we are
adding to them as we go along. Whenever we look at whether we should be
extending it further, there are issues. Part of it are our own issues of our
ability to expand it very rapidly. This of course is very much our decision.
Every country reserves the right to run its own visa regime. I think we will
have to see whether that is something that can be considered or not. I am
really not in a position to say anything to you on this matter right now.
Suman, Rajya Sabha TV): Koreans have been very
much interested in free trade agreement with India for a long time. Do you
think that in this visit something is going to come out?
Secretary (East):The issue of the review of the CEPA with Korea has been under discussion for
some time. If you recall, when we had the last Presidential visit from South
Korea we agreed that we would look at that in real earnestness, and those
discussions have been ongoing. There is a joint working group which looks at
those issues. There is a Ministerial delegation which is also supposed to
visit. If they are satisfied with the performance and the review of the joint working
group, then of course a larger review of the agreement would be undertaken. All
I would say is the process is ongoing and it will continue for some time.
Question (Anchal Vohra,
CNN-IBN): We have trade deficit with South Korea
as well. Will any talks happen on that front? I have spoken to the South Korean
Ambassador and he says unless India makes in India more, there is no way out of
Secretary (East):That is a fact. If India makes more and it has products to export to South
Korea, definitely we will be able to bridge the gap. We have identified the
problems to a certain extent. There are certain commodities that we are able to
export; the others we are seeking market access. As I said in my answer to the
previous question, this is an ongoing process and the review is on at the
moment. A review of the CEPA itself would be undertaken once the results of the
working group and the Ministerial visit come to us, and it will be clear at
that point of time.
Question (Suhasini Haidar,CNN-IBN):Foreign Secretary, I did have a question about nuclear cooperation with China
but I would like to drop that given your answer to Vishal Thapar’s question.
At what level, where did we take up the
issue of China’s projects in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, and has China given us
any indication that they may reconsider what is clearly a sensitive issue with
Foreign Secretary:It was taken up with the Chinese Ambassador in Delhi, and that is really as
much as I can say.
Chowdhury, Times Now): RM was scheduled to be
in Tawang on the second of this month and top military officials are in Tawang
today. Was this planned deliberately to have RM before the Prime Minister’s
visit in Tawang? Since you know that there have been always complaints from the
Chinese side about Arunachal, and assuming that this issue will come up or it
may have come up, what is our answer going to be?
Foreign Secretary:Before I reply to this, I just wanted to confirm to Suhasini it was also taken
up by our Ambassador in Beijing.
On your question about RM, I did not
know that he was in Tawang but to me it is a completely natural happening.
Tawang is part of Arunachal Pradesh which is part of India. So Defence Ministers
go. There is no particular reason why the Foreign Secretary should be looking
Chowdhury, Sankei Shimbun): High-speed railway is
a priority right now for the Indian Government. Are we talking to the Chinese
to collaborate in this particular regard? Is this issue going to be coming up?
Foreign Secretary:Railway cooperation is something which is under discussion with the Chinese. In
fact that is one area there has been a lot of progress. It involves a very
broad spectrum of railway related issues from station development to speed
raising, to heavy haulage. My understanding is that there have been discussions
with the Chinese on high-speed railway, but beyond that I am not sure whether
matters have progressed.
Official Spokesperson:I would like to thank the Foreign Secretary, Secretary (East), and JS (EA) for
being here today. This concludes the press briefing on Prime Minister’s
forthcoming visit to China, Mongolia and South Korea. Thank you all.