C3S Report No: 0013/2017
The following is the compiled statement postulated by Arjun Sundar, IInd year M.A International Relations, University of Madras, at the Mock Modi-Xi Summit which was held as a Young Minds of C3S event on April 1 2017 at C3S, Athena Infonomics Building, T. Nagar. For the complete event report, see link: Modi and Xi in Chennai: A Mock Summit- Young Minds of C3S Event Report.
At the invitation of the Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S), Arjun Sundar played the role of H.E. President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China and visited the C3S office in T.Nagar, Chennai on 1 April 2017 for a debate on China’s policies concerning environmental security.
President Xi laid out the principles of China’s development model, namely the ‘China Model’ (1976) as envisioned by our visionary statesman and H.E., the former Vice-chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Deng Xiaoping. The President applauded the model and stated that it was directly responsible for the tremendous economic transformation undergone by China and the fact that China is the world’s second largest economy today, underscores the importance of the development model in propelling China’s economic ascent.
The President acknowledged that this economic development brought with it, some genuine concerns regarding environmental sustainability and sought to reassure the audience that China’s policies have always been environment-friendly and have adhered to the strictest standards of international norms and rules regarding the safety and preservation of environmental sustainability.
President Xi explicated various measures adopted by China in this regard, namely, a ‘2007 World Bank report with China’s National Environmental Agency’ to formulate an environment security strategy. This was also the first of its kind initiative by any developing country. Another important measure in this regard includes the ‘Action Plan for Prevention and Control of Air Pollution’, instituted in 2013, which aims to reduce air pollution by over 10% during the 2012-2017 period. The President also stressed on the continued progress made in these policy areas and expressed confidence in achieving the set targets.
President Xi emphasised that the promulgation of a four-color alert system in 2013, which was a significant step in making the people aware of the pollution levels that are currently prevailing and accordingly guidelines and orders are issued for compliance, which helps in addressing this issue in a cooperative manner.
The President enumerated the steps being taken to address issues concerning lead contamination. He emphasised that the lead ban in gasoline, brought out in 2000, has significantly addressed the challenges surrounding the same and consistent efforts were taken at all levels to minimise and eliminate the harmful effects of such contamination.
The President stated that as a party to the Treaty to control and phase out Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP), China has continuously strived to eliminate the production, import and use of pesticides that fall under the treaty. In 2015, China established an inventory of POP-contaminated sites and formulated remediation plans to address the same.
President Xi also stated that China stands fully committed to the proposals agreed by it under the Paris agreement. These include a reduction in energy-intensive industries by 2030, increased investment in cleaner energy systems, investment in energy efficiency, adjusted resource pricing and increased transparency in the actions undertaken to fulfil requirements of the agreement, to which China is a signatory.
On the issue of ecological migrants, the President noted that over one million people from the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region have been relocated to safer places. He emphasised that the resettlement process began in 1983 and the government is providing land and has built small homes to house them. He also mentioned that opportunities for providing work in non-farm sectors were also being looked into. The President expressed his firm commitment to the speedy restoration of water and irrigation facilities to the drought-affected areas and to resettle the ecological migrants back in their homes, with improved facilities. He commended the Centre-Province cooperation to tackle this crisis and restore normality.
President Xi also enunciated China’s shift toward renewable sources of energy. He stated that there is a noticeable drop in coal consumption and production and mentioned about the three-year trend of declining coal use for the country’s massive electricity grid. Huge wind and solar farms are under construction. The President also stated that overused capacities in coal and hazardous industries in coal manufacturing were being inspected on a regular basis and those found to be non-compliant have been asked to shut-down.
The President also expressed China’s continuing investment in the area of clean-energy and technology and pledged to invest substantial amounts by 2020, as envisaged in the Paris agreement.
After completing China’s policy stance on environmental security, the President proceeded to take questions from the audience.
On the concerns regarding pollution levels in Beijing, China’s capital city, President Xi acknowledged the serious nature of the problem and said that the government was taking proactive steps and measures to address the same. These include promulgation of the four-color alert system, sensitization and awareness campaigns in schools and colleges, regular meetings conducted by the provincial government officials with citizens associations, pricing resources and products to reflect ecological sensitivity and to create changes in psychological behaviour patterns of the citizens. The President expressed confidence in the steps being undertaken in this regard.
The President also sought to alleviate ecological concerns relating to China’s infrastructure and energy projects abroad and in the territorial waters of the South China Sea. He stated that all the projects undertaken by China are in complete conformity with international rules and standards on environmental safety. He stated that certain obligations under the Paris agreement have also been incorporated into these projects and plans are on to ensure fuller reflection of China’s Paris agreement commitments in the varied projects undertaken across the world and in China as well.
On the issue of tending to the needs of ecological migrants in China, President Xi stated that efforts are on to restore normality in the areas affected by climate change. He also emphasised that these migrants were provided houses with small cultivable lands for farming and additional employment in non-farm sectors to supplement their farm income. Other measures include construction of schools and hospitals in areas where the ecological migrants are housed, to ensure that they lead a normal life. The President expressed confidence that once conditions normalise, these people can go back to their respective hometowns.
On the recent developments regarding the changing stance of certain countries to their committed obligations under the Paris agreement, President Xi reaffirmed China’s commitment to uphold and fulfil its obligations under the agreement. The President believes that climate change is a transnational problem and that it requires continued cooperation by all nations, to successfully tackle this problem. In this regard, President Xi called for continued global cooperation and highlighted the need to stay united in facing and addressing this challenge.
At the invitation of the Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S), Arjun Sundar playd the role of H.E. President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China and visited the C3S office in T.Nagar, Chennai on 1 April 2017 for a debate on China’s policies concerning aspects related to food security.
President Xi elaborated on the agricultural transformation in China since the initiation of rural reforms in late 1978. This led to the transformation of agriculture from central planning to market-driven system. He mentioned that as a response to these reforms, the real value of gross output in agriculture doubled between 1978 and 1989, and this, in turn, led to a diversification of China’s agricultural production and food consumption patterns.
President Xi remarked that the increase in income levels and desire for urban preferences led the shift in consumption from table grains and low-quality vegetables to a perceptible increase in meat intake, the consumption of a diversified array of fruits, high-quality vegetables and a unique preference for higher quality table grains.
The President expressed great confidence in China’s cultivation patterns and proudly explicated that China is the world’s largest grain producer.
The President noted that China is a major producer of many agricultural commodities, key among them being rice/paddy, buckwheat and millets. He said that the progress and advances made in this regard had turned the world’s attention toward China and expressed admiration for the same.
The President applauded the growth rate of China’s agricultural sector and expressly stated that it would continue to grow in the near future.
President Xi also stated that grain trade in the foreign market is carried out by Foreign Trade Corporations (FTCs), under the strict supervision of the Central government, as the food security of China forms an important component of its national security strategy.
President Xi also noted the continued increase in the output of vegetables and fruits and commended the improved means and modes of agricultural production, in achieving this continued increase.
The President apprised the gathered audience on the key achievements and strides made in China’s agricultural sector. These include a steady development of economic crops, steady promotion in product quality of planting production, the initial success in the model of increasing grain products and the use of scientific fertilisers and water saving techniques. All these contributed to a high level of efficiency in China’s agricultural production.
President Xi proceeded to state China’s approach toward Genetically Modified (GM) crops. He said that China is globally competitive in GM crops and firmly wished to adopt transgenic crops as a part of the daily household diet.
The President mentioned that significant amounts had been allocated for research in GM crops since the 1980s and the quality of research has always been on par with the global standards. The development of GM rice was a big achievement and a positive testament to China’s committed research and expertise in the arena of GM crops.
President Xi proudly stated that China was the first country to commercialise transgenic crops in the early 1990s, with the introduction of virus-resistant tobacco. In 1996, China was second only to the US, in planting transgenic crops. In 2014, China ranked 6th. The President expressed confidence that China would soon attain global leadership status in the cultivation and use of transgenic crops and praised the proactive measures being undertaken in this regard.
President Xi complemented the solid base of expertise created in the research of transgenic crops. He mentioned that GM research is one of the sixteen areas for achieving a major breakthrough by 2020, as envisioned in the ‘National Scientific Research Plan, 2008’.
President Xi also noted that China preferred indigenous encouragement in research and development of GM crops to the adoption of GM crops with foreign technology, as an indigenous development, best exemplified the needs of and suitable consumption patterns in China.
The President elucidated in detail the best safety management practices adopted by the government in the quality checks with regards to the development of transgenic crops. In addition, he mentioned the numerous public awareness campaigns created to develop an objective approach toward GM crops and to allay concerns and fears regarding adoption of GM crops.
On the issue of raising the concerns of the poor and developing countries at the World Trade Organization (WTO), with regard to the policies adopted by the developed countries, who seek faster opening of the former’s markets, the President unequivocally stated that China would continue to stand by the legitimate concerns and support the rights of these countries, in accordance with the protection mechanisms available to them under the WTO rules and regulations. China also condemns the attempted move by developed countries to seek faster liberalisation and opening up of markets in the poor and developing countries, while continuing to provide agricultural subsidies to the domestic producers in their countries and therefore are depriving the grounds for free, fair and open competition. The President praised the similar stance adopted by India at the WTO and pledged to work with India, on this issue, to reach a positive
The President also highlighted the steps taken to sustain the growing demand for food. These include improving water use efficiency in agriculture, trans-basin water diversion to supply China’s high population in North China plain, addressing bottlenecks in transport infrastructure, technology and logistics, a moderate increase of grain imports, steps to be taken for flood prevention and extension of additional support to biotech
After completing China’s policy stance on food security, the President proceeded to take questions from the audience.
On the need for maintaining minimum imports, President Xi mentioned that it was essential for China to maintain self-sufficiency in food production, as food security forms an important component of national security strategy and therefore any overreliance on imports, can pose a significant danger to national security. Another reason why China maintains a policy of minimum import in grains, despite being the largest grain producer in the world, is that it doesn’t want the farmers to be engaged in unitary crop production, and encourages the cultivation of economic crops simultaneously.
On data with respect to the water levels in the Brahmaputra, the President stated that as per the pacts signed between India and China on sharing information regarding the same, China will continue to provide information, as per the terms agreed to by both sides in the agreements. He also stated that water diversion from the Brahmaputra is not a reason for concern for the Indian side. On a treaty to share water from the Brahmaputra River, President Xi emphasised that China is willing and ready to enter into formal talks with India and Bangladesh on the same.
On the issue of how China would tend to its growing food needs domestically, before going for imports, President Xi remarked that China had always prioritised meeting its food needs domestically and this continues to be the policy till date.
The President also stated that there is no reason to abhor GM crops and that the ones researched and developed in China were of the finest quality. Appropriate public awareness campaigns have correspondingly been launched to engage the citizens on this issue and apprise them of the benefits of cultivating GM crops.
1.At the invitation of the Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S), Arjun Sundar played the role of H.E. President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China and visited the C3S office in T.Nagar, Chennai on 1 April 2017 for a debate on China’s Belt and Road initiative.
2.President Xi elaborated extensively on the importance of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in realising the goals of regional connectivity, developing strong economic interlinks, upgrading existing infrastructure to modern, sophisticated levels and in shaping the overall long-term course of bilateral relations between China and Pakistan.
3. The President praised Pakistan as an “all-weather friend” of China. He described that the relationship between China and Pakistan is “Taller than the mountains, deeper than the oceans, stronger than steel, sweeter than honey”.
4.Moving onto the specifics of CPEC, the President said that a vast network of highways and railways will be built, that will link seaports in Gwadar and Karachi, with northern Pakistan and will also be extended to Western China and Central Asia.
5.The President stated that the Karakoram highway between Rawalpindi and the Chinese border will be completely reconstructed and overhauled. Pakistan’s railway network will also be extended to connect to China’s southern Xinjiang railway in Kashgar.
6.President Xi stated that a long-term plan for 2025-30 had been formulated at the CPEC summit in Islamabad in 2016. The areas envisioned under this include cooperation in agriculture, cooperation over livelihood, water resources, livestock, developing people to people communication and cooperation on financial matters.
7.In addition to the above, the President mentioned that collaboration in Science and Technology is in full swing. The projects here include China-Pakistan joint cotton biotechnology lab, China-Pakistan joint marine research centre and cooperation in space research.
8.The president mentioned that the Pakistan-China Fiber Optic Project in Gilgit-Baltistan is an important component of CPEC to enhance telecommunication facilities in the region.
9. President Xi stated that CPEC’s importance to China can be understood by the fact that it finds mention in China’s 13th five-year development plan (2016-20).
10.The President also stated that the CPEC provides for an alternate route for energy supplies and a new route by which Western China can conduct trade. It improves connectivity to Xinjiang and can attract both public and private investment. Moreover, it acts as a complement to the Western Development Plan.
11. President Xi asked the Indian side to reconsider its opposition to CPEC and shed the geopolitical paranoia and move forward to join the initiative to be a part of the project, which envisages improved regional connectivity and economic linkage at its core. The President used the opportunity to reiterate China’s invitation to the Indian Prime Minister, to attend the OBOR summit in the month of May.
12. President Xi also welcomed Iran and Russia’s desire to join CPEC and stated that this coupled with the intention of a few Central Asian nations to be a part of the corridor, highlighted the support of the international community for the project.
13.The President further proceeded to discuss the 21st Century Maritime Silk Route Economic Belt.
14.The President lavished praise on Admiral Liu Huaqing for his contribution to the rise of the Chinese Navy. He emphasised that China must regain the naval superpower status, that it enjoyed in the ancient times. He stated that the “People’s Republic of China should establish great power diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics”.
15.President Xi stated that the objectives of the Maritime Silk Route (MSR) include promoting open freedom of navigation, cooperation and security and to build a new structure of joint development of marine resources.
16.On the reasons for initiation of the MSR, the President remarked that a significant portion of China’s external trade happens along maritime shipping lanes and hence the necessity to secure continued safe passage in marine waters.
Also, he said, China has strengthened deployments along the MSR, as a response to the rebalance strategy and its Indo-Pacific conception.
President Xi noted that the MSR will also help to offset the production excess in China by orienting commodities such as steel and cement toward export, as they have a lot of overcapacity, back in China.
The President also welcomed the unanimous backing of the UN Security Council with regard to completion of the projects under the Belt and Road initiative. This again highlighted global support for China’s role regarding the Belt and Road initiative. Against the backdrop of this ruling, President Xi asked India to adopt a ‘pragmatic approach’ toward the projects undertaken by China, under the Silk Road Economic Belt.
After completing the objectives and importance of the Belt and Road initiative, the President proceeded to take questions from the audience.
On Indian concerns regarding construction and telecommunication activities in Gilgit-Baltistan, the President unequivocally stated that China’s position on the Kashmir issue has been uniform and consistent over the years and China strongly believes that India is deliberately trying to scuttle the CPEC, by carrying ‘unfounded assumptions’ regarding China’s development role in the region. He said that China had always considered India’s views on the corridor, but expressed frustration on the continued opposition by India, by raising some so-called concerns, which have no legal tenability.
On the Chinese naval presence in Gwadar, the President asserted that the Chinese navy’s presence was to supplement the existing security infrastructure.
On the insurgency in Baluchistan and its possible repercussions on the CPEC, the President stated that the Pakistani government and military have provided assurance to China at the highest levels, regarding the safety of the workers and the construction infrastructure. He also appreciated the continued cooperation between China and Pakistan in dealing with the insurgent elements, that pose a threat to the completion of CPEC and was confident that all impediments to the successful completion of the project, would be overcome, in no time.
The President also stated that the MSR is complementary to the CPEC and that all the activities and projects undertaken by China are complementary to each other and are not at conflicting ends.
At the invitation of the Chennai Centre for China Studies (C3S), Arjun Sundar played the role of H.E. President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China and visited the C3S office in T.Nagar, Chennai on 1 April 2017 for a debate on China’s position on issues such as the Dalai Lama, Southern Tibet, India quest for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council and restrictions on internet freedom and the information that flows through it.
On the Dalai Lama, President Xi stated that China would vehemently protest against attempts by any Indian government official to meet the Dalai Lama. China believes that any government contact by India with the Dalai Lama can have a negative effect on the future progress of bilateral ties.
On Southern Tibet, President Xi asserted that the Indian side must accept that it is a disputed area and must refrain from engaging in provocative acts of the display China condemns the scheduled visit of Dalai Lama to Southern Tibet, in harshest terms and wants the Indian government to revoke the clearance given for travel to the Dalai Lama, as any complacency in addressing this legitimate concern raised by China, can bring about significant hurdles for cooperation in the future.
On India’s bid for permanent membership in the Security Council, President Xi emphasised that China wants India to play an increased role in the United Nations and is willing to support India’s candidature for permanent membership, so long as it revokes its support for Japan.
On the restrictions on internet freedom and information flows through the same, the President believed that this was a necessary step to keep a tab on the information flow in social media sites, to secure interests, vital to China’s national security and to monitor and observe events and activities that could have a bearing on national security. The President also remarked that this didn’t amount to censorship of information, but that the information, goes through a series of stringent checks, before being allowed to pass.
President Xi expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the members and research officers of the Chennai Center for China Studies for organising and conducting the debate in a systematic and professional manner. He thanked the audience for their presence and participation.
(Mr Arjun Sundar is a student of II Year M.A.International Relations, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras and Member, Young Minds of C3S.)