India, China launch provincial forum to expand ties, ink 24 pacts

15 May 2015


India and China today extended their relationship beyond the confines of the governments in the national capitals to states, cities and the people even as the two countries signed a record 24 agreements in key sectors, including in railways and education.

On the second day of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first visit to the communist neighbour, India also for the first time, launched a `State and Provincial Leaders' Forum'.

The two sides reviewed the progress made in promoting cooperation under the framework of the BCIM (Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar) Economic Corridor in the light of the Joint Study Group of BCIM Economic Corridor, and agreed to continue their respective efforts to implement understandings reached at the meeting.

Besides, the two sides agreed to broaden cooperation in regional forums such as SAARC and the APEC in advancing regional economic integration and in promoting economic growth and prosperity.

The two countries signed a protocol for setting up consulates-general at Chengdu and Chennai besides a MoU on consultative mechanism for cooperation in trade negotiations.

Indian Railways and China National Railways signed an action plan for enhancing cooperation in the railway sector.

''Today, we have signed over 20 agreements, covering diverse areas of cooperation. This shows the depth and maturity of our relationship and the positive direction of our partnership,'' Modi said in his address.

''Our decision to open consulates in Chengdu and Chennai reflects growing mutual confidence and shared commitment to expand relations,'' he added.

An MoU on education exchange programme and 'Space Cooperation Outline' was also signed.

Other key agreements are on developing China India think tanks, maritime cooperation and ocean sciences.

Four agreements were signed on sister-state and sister-city relations between Karnataka and Sichuan province; Chennai and Chongqing; Hyderabad and Qingdao; and Aurangabad and Dunhuang.

An agreement on setting up a Mahatma Gandhi skill centre in Ahmedabad was also signed besides a broadcast tie-up for Doordarshan and China's state-run CCTV.

Agreements on education exchange programme, on mining and minerals, skill development, tourism and vocational education also figured in the list.

Two MoUs between Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Yunnan Minzu University and another with Fudan University were signed on the establishment of a Yoga college and centre for Gandhian and Indian studies, respectively.

''Bilateral cooperation was a very important part of our discussion. We have set a high level of ambition for our economic partnership. We see enormous bilateral opportunities and many similar challenges, like urbanisation,'' Modi said at a press conference later.

Modi said the two countries have identified specific projects, including the railways and the two Chinese industrial parks in Gujarat and Maharashtra.

He said the chief ministers of the two states accompanying him were very supportive about increased Chinese participation in the `Make in India' mission and infrastructure sector.

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