New Delhi: China, which has surpassed the US in its contribution to development cooperation projects around the world, could cooperate with India in the area as a means of reducing the trust deficit that exists between the two countries, a Chinese official said, adding they had followed with interest Indian prime minister-elect Narendra Modi's comment that the two nations had “convering issues”.
Zhou Taidong, a member of the Asia Foundation, Beijing, said that China and India can help neighbouring countries together and proposed that the BRICS forum could be a good platform for them to help developing countries together.
“The Asia initiative (in development cooperation projects) of China does not involve India.. Development cooperation can be an element of strategic dialogue between the two; a good way that China and India can work together to reduce the trust deficit,” said Zhou at a talk Friday evening.
Addressing a seminar on China's Development Cooperation Policy: Emerging Trends', Zhou said China has contributed $75 billion towards development cooperation, “overtaking the US”.
“The two big Asia partners should work together in many developing countries, including Africa,” he said at the seminar organised by the Forum for Indian Development Cooperation (FIDC).
Former foreign secretary Shyam Saran, who was in the chair, said that the IBSA forum - a grouping of India, Brazil and South Africa - is a platform for extending development cooperation to developing countries. He suggested that BRICS, a grouping in which China is also a member besides the IBSA countries as well as Russia, could look into the aspect of cooperation.
“There are many areas in which China and India can work together; hope we can take the ideas forward,” said Saran, who is chairperson of Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS) think tank.
Elaborating about the Chinese aid, Zhou said China faces a lot of criticism at home from people for handing out such large sums to developing countries. Giving an example, he said a woman whose house was demolished did not get enough compensation from the government. She sued the ministry of commerce, asking how it could give huge amounts of aid or development cooperation to countries like North Korea while not providing its own citizens enough compensation.
Zhou said China has attempted to bring transparency into its aid projects by bringing out two white papers on the aid sectors.
With some African countries feeling snowed over by aid from donor countries, Zhou said that China is now joining programmes on the ground in the continent.
One major drawback in China's aid programmes, he pointed out, was that the foreign aid department people don't speak English.
Zhou, who is also a member of the China International Development Research Network, denied that China practised “cheque book diplomacy”, or using economic aid and investment to curry diplomatic favour. He said it was only for Taiwan, for the one China policy.
On a question that China used only its own labour in its development projects abroad, Zhou said that China used 65 percent of local labour. But he said that in some projects only Chinese labour is used. The reason he said was that it is hard for the Chinese to master the local language and to train the local people. “The Chinese want to finish the work as soon as possible and get back home,” he added.