News / Asia

Chinese Premier Looks to Boost Economic, Political Ties

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang gestures as he speaks during his visit to the Tata Consultancy Services office in Mumbai, India, May 21, 2013.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang gestures as he speaks during his visit to the Tata Consultancy Services office in Mumbai, India, May 21, 2013.
William Ide
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is on his first international trip, this week, with stops in India, Pakistan, Switzerland and Germany.  The trip not only highlights China's efforts to deepen its economic ties in Asia and Europe, but grow its political influence, as well.

Although the weather was hot when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in India this week, relations between the two Asian giants appeared to be cooling down, just weeks after facing their toughest border dispute in years.

National Singapore University’s Kanti Bajpai said that, so far, Premier Li has managed to make some positive inroads, reminiscing about his first trip to India two decades ago and presenting himself as very easy-going and friendly.

“I think what has probably not gone as well, from China’s point of view, is that the Indian prime minister has had to do some plain-speaking in their sessions together," said Bajpai. "And, one change that has occurred already in the Indian position after many, many, years is that Manmohan Singh has indicated that any repeat of the kind of incursion that occurred last month will make it virtually impossible for India to look at China through the business-as-usual lens.”

Last month, India strongly protested what it said was a Chinese incursion into the Ladakh region of the Himalayas.  Troops from both countries eventually withdrew.  But tensions rose to a level that even concerned officials in New Delhi with a softer view on China.

China and India are both powerful emerging economies and members of the global grouping called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). The two are competitors who, at times, are very suspicious of each another, but are also actively looking for more ways to build cooperation.

Bajpai said choosing India as the Chinese premier’s first stop was a pre-emptive move on Beijing’s part.

“I think the Chinese have an interest that they are recognizing through this visit of trying to make sure that India doesn’t drift away completely from China, that it doesn’t go firmly into America’s sort of pocket and that it doesn’t become a troublesome state along China’s periphery like the Philippines and Vietnam,” said Bajpai.

After spending three days in India, Li Keqiang makes a brief stop in neighboring Pakistan before heading off to Europe where analysts say the Chinese premier is seeking to grow Beijing’s economic and political clout as well.

In Switzerland, China is nearing the completion of its second free trade agreement with a European country that is not a member of the European Union. Last month, Beijing inked its first such free trade deal with Iceland.

Zhang Lihua is the director of the European Studies Center at Beijing’s Tsinghua University.

“On the one hand the free trade agreement with Switzerland is sending a signal to the European Union," he said. "China and the EU frequently have trade disputes. Trade ties between Switzerland are better and their disputes are fewer. At the same time,  it will also help to boost two-way trade between the two countries.”

Jonas Parello-Plesner, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, agreed that the message China is trying to send by signing the agreements is that it is open to trade. But, he added, many in Europe are not only concerned about free trade, but fair trade as well.

“The mood in Europe, particularly in Brussels at the moment, is that free trade is a two-way street and China basically hasn't [recognized that] in the same way as Europe has," said Parello-Plesner. "The past ten years since China's EU WTO accession has not really delivered an opening up in more and more areas, and [China] is meddling its subsidies in other areas.”

At present, the European Union refuses to consider a free trade agreement with China because of Beijing’s precondition that it be considered a free market economy - a label many in Europe and other Western countries feel China has yet to live up to.

Still, China is hopeful that Li’s visit to Switzerland, and last stop in Germany, will have an impact on the rest of Europe, as well.

Germany is China’s biggest trading partner in Europe and the Chinese market is the top destination for German exports.

Parallo-Plesner said that China’s decision to start the premier’s first tour in India and end in Germany highlights the country’s omni-directional approach to foreign policy.

“It's two big economies, they are important in different ways," he said. "Germany, because of the technology it provides for China in its next growth phase. India, because it's a big neighbor because it's part of the BRICS corporation and sort of the emerging world order.”

After his stopover in Germany, Premier Li returns to Beijing on May 27.

You May Like

Yemen Brings US, Iran Closer to Naval Face-off

US sending two more ships to waters off coast of Yemen to take part in 'maritime security operations' More

Minorities Become Majority Across US

From 2000 to 2013, minorities became the majority in 78 counties in the United States. Here's where those demographic shifts are happening More

Japan's Maglev Train Breaks Own Speed Record

Seven-car 'magnetic levitation' train traveled at more than 600 kilometers per hour during test run Tuesday More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ashim Kumar Chatterjee from: Delhi India
May 21, 2013 8:48 PM
Relationship a country develops with countries are shaped by many external and internal factors. China is no exception. A country catapulated into great heights by European & North American capital has emerged as a huge manufacturing hub, which tries to remain competitive by managing the value of it's currency and achieving advantages of scale. Chinese economy has today a manufacturing base, whose capacities far exceed internal Chinese demands. This manufacturing base cannot sustain and continue to generate and provide sustained employment and resultant slow but steady improvement in quality of life of millions and billions of it's people. Hence, China is trying for deeper inroads into vast Indian market. But given the low technological sophistication and being a higher cost cost economy than India is, Chinese goods and services cannot compete in India once the manufacturing bottlenecks like availability of power mainly is removed. China exports goods worth US $ 40 billion to fill up gaps between Indian demand of certain goods and local availability of those goods unable to meet demand. It makes sense, therefore, USA and Europe to adjust costs of their goods by removing the cost of R&D and patents and royalty etc and passing off the advantages of scale of their goods and services for their technologically advanced and futuristic products. And they should also come forward and invest in nuclear and non conventional solar power sector on build own and operate model, which will suffice to create a manufacturing base which will create demand for capital goods from US and Europe and help in returning and consolidating their economic growth. In China US & Europe has created a Frankenstien, which is competing US and Europe out in their own home. US and Europe can calibrate their economic and financial engagement in India in such a way that Indian economy remains domestically oriented unlike China and does not become a strategic menace. India imports oil and gas worth US $ 160 billion or more annually. This amount saved by US & European engagement in power sector alone shall enable India to import technologically refined technology and goods. China has to upgrade it's products to find market in India. However, China too has opportunities in investing in India's infrastructure on again BOO model on honourable terms and conditions provided it decides to end it's many disputes with India. If those disputes are not resolved to India's satisfaction, India's preferred partner in economic development shall remain USA, Europe & Japan. Customer is king. His terms and conditions have to be respected.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs