Racing to a new prosperity

Updated: 2014-06-04 06:50

By Emanuel John (China Daily)

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Other commentators are predicting a boost for tourism too. "Of the 70 million outbound tourists from China, India gets only 100,000 visitors. The number is very small," said Kong Can, deputy director of the Yunnan Development Research Council. "Many Chinese tourists are big spenders. There is a huge opportunity waiting to be grabbed in the eastern and northeastern parts of India," he said, adding that he's keen to see tourism become a two-way street.

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"We would also be delighted to see more tourists from the region visiting China, especially the southwest."

Kong's words were in sync with the views of Premier Li Keqiang. During his maiden visit to India in May last year, Li and his Indian counterparts discussed India's Look East focus - the country's efforts to cultivate economic and strategic ties with Southeast Asia - and China's southward thrust from Yunnan province into Myanmar.

According to Li, India's Look East policy will be incomplete if it only includes Southeast Asia, and the proposal for a Kolkata-to-Kunming corridor that would benefit all the countries involved made good economic sense.

Avishek Gupta, a corporate strategy analyst at SREI Infrastructure Finance, firmly believes that India's new government under Narendra Modi will push forward with strategies upon which India and the other BCIM countries have already agreed.

"No matter that there has been a change of guard in the country, I am sure the proposed economic corridor will excite the new administration as well," he said.

Last year, Modi's predecessor, Manmohan Singh, revealed India's enthusiasm for bolstering regional connectivity, a form of cooperation that looks set to continue.

"The new prime minister has given a clear indication that regional cooperation figures prominently in his scheme of things. That was quite evident from the list of guests for the swearing-in ceremony of the new government," Gupta said. "Almost all the heads of state of India's neighboring countries, including the prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, attended the ceremony."


The four BCIM countries are currently preparing a joint report that will propose concrete projects and financing measures before they meet in Bangladesh this month.

India and China have to grow together, as must the other two countries in the proposed economic corridor, according to Standard Chartered's Sengupta, who said the project is important because it will open up a wealth of opportunities. According to Sengupta, China correctly regards the corridor as a way of boosting strategic ties with India.

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