Chengdu is India's Gateway to Western China

Authors: The Hindu


India is discovering Chengdu — a globally integrated economic hub — as a gateway to western China and cyber-connected parts of the Asia-Pacific.
India is discovering Chengdu — a globally integrated economic hub — as a gateway to western China and cyber-connected parts of the Asia-Pacific.
“Since the western region of China is developing very rapidly, our presence in this region will be helpful to develop relations between India and China in different areas, especially in trade and economy, culture and tourism,” says Ashok Kantha, India’s Ambassador to China.
Mr. Kantha made the observation in response to questions at the inaugural of a Yoga festival in the city, which signalled India’s intent to leverage culture and soft power to engage with the people of China. The event was held to coincide with the International Day of Yoga on Sunday.
The Ambassador pointed out that given Chengdu’s location as a link with western, central, northwestern and southwestern China, India has decided to open a consulate in the city.
“It will be our endeavour to operationalise this consulate within the year 2015,” he said. The Chinese are opening a consulate in Chennai, in order to deepen engagement along the Bay of Bengal coastline.
There were other factors that drove the decision to open a diplomatic outpost in Chengdu.
The city is a first rate financial centre and a globally connected logistical hub. Chengdu’s Shuangliu International Airport is the fourth busiest in China.
An intricate rail network not only links the landlocked city to China’s coastal pivots of Shanghai and Guangzhou but also to Central Asia and parts of Europe. The first Chengdu-Europe international direct rail freight train started its Eurasian journey three years ago, routed through Poland.
Chengdu has also become the engine of China’s Western Development Programme — a strategic plan to develop inland China, following the dramatic success in building coastal China.
Cost Advantages
Top Indian Information Technology firms have also leveraged the centrality of Chengdu as part of the western development plan to advance their business. “The government was pushing the Go-West policy, and we were looking for cost advantages following our investments in Shanghai. Consequently, we were the first IT company to come to Chengdu,” says Senthil Kumar, country head of Wipro for Greater China, which includes the Chinese mainland, Taiwan Province and Hong Kong SAR. Today, Wipro’s Chengdu division, based in the city’s leafy Tianfu software park, includes staff conversant in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Bahasa. That enables the company, with an 800-strong staff, to handle its business across the entire Asia-Pacific region. High-profile clients include Huawei, a telecom giant, and Sinopec, an energy behemoth.
“We are slowly penetrating the Chinese market, given that most of the companies are State-owned enterprises,” Mr. Kumar says.
E-visa Facility
In tune with the initiative by the two governments to link people and businesses at the level of the States, provinces and cities, Mr. Kantha is optimistic that ordinary Chinese from Chengdu and its hinterland will take advantage of the e-visa facility for Chinese tourists that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced during his May visit to China.

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