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Modi and Xi in Chennai: A Mock Summit- Young Minds of C3S Event Report

C3S Report No: 0012/2017

The following is a ‘Young Minds of C3S’ Event Report of the Mock Summit, between the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri. Narendra Modi, and Mr. Xi Jinping, the Hon’ble President of China, on April 1 2017 at C3S, Athena Infonomics Building, T.Nagar.

The two participants in the debate, looking smart and well-prepared for the event, raised the expectations among the audience. The role of the Indian Prime Minister was played by Ms. Radha Varadarajan, M.Phil scholar, Department of International Relations, University of Madras. She has also specialised in the field of Environmental Sustainability, and has been  involved in several projects on the same line. The mantle of Mr. Xi Jinping’s role was taken up by a young gentleman from the University of Madras, Mr. Arjun Sundar, who is studying M.A in International Relations.

The summit  was anchored by Mr. Sundeep Kumar S., Research Officer, C3S. The anchor began, stating that bilateral talks between nations had never been actual debates, although the statements to the press after the dialogue could be opposing in nature. These post-conference statements, sometimes, contain subtle indications to the other party and to the global community, while in some instances they might be quite explicit. The purpose of this Mock Summit, conducted as part of the YMC3S programme, was to give the participants a taste of diplomacy. The audience were expected to play the role of the press.

The session was divided into three sessions. Each session was allocated a topic for discussion. The topics for discussion included the following:

  1. Environment Security

  2. Food Security

  3. OBOR and India

Each session was followed by a Q&A session. After the third period, there was also a session where general questions could be asked, apart from those relating to the topics that were discussed.

First, the anchor invited the Indian Prime Minister to give his statement on Environment Security.

The Indian Prime Minister began his statement saying his primary aim was to reconcile environmental sustainability and economic development. When viewed along with other emerging economies, the Prime Minister claimed that India had always followed a cleaner path of development. According to the National Electricity Policy of India, environmental concerns would be addressed suitably with appropriate advance action by way of comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment and implementation of Economic Action Plan. The suitable steps included utilisation of fly ash as per environmental guidelines, setting up of coal washeries and full compliance with environmental norms and standards in all power generating plants. India reaffirmed that it would stand by its commitments made as part of the COP 21 in Paris. Additionally, India has also planned to generate 100 GW of Solar Power, with 40 GW being generated by individual roof top solar systems. Apart from this, India has also set several voluntary goals. This effort by India, to set voluntary goals and working towards it was lauded by the United Nations Environment Programme, as part of its 2014 report. The Prime Minister concluded by stating that the current debate should move from Climate Change to Climate Justice.

Mr. Sundeep invited the Chinese President to take over.

Mr. Jinping stated that his government would be following the China Model (1973) advocated by former Chinese President Mr. Deng Xiaoping. According to the plan, easy reforms will be implemented first, followed by the difficult ones. The President said that his government acknowledged the contamination caused by the lead industries and promised to take quick action. Further, to emphasise on China’s proactive involvement in environmental protection, he listed the commitments made as part of the COP 21:

  1. Emission of greenhouse gases to be maintained at a level lower than 2%

  2. Carbon peaking to be attained by 2030

  3. Increased investment in clean energy industries

  4. Addressing the problems of the “Ecological migrants” in the Miaomiao Lake village

  5. Coal consumption to be reduced by 9.7%

Mr.Sundeep requested the Press to ask their questions. The following is the list of questions that were asked with their respective answers:

To the Indian Prime Minister:

  1. Apart from the pollution control measures undertaken by the Government, what efforts have been put to make the common man aware of pollution and its consequences? How are the NGOs, which work towards sustainable development, assisted?

  2. What are the grass-root level plans to implement the ambitious plan of generating 100 GW of solar energy? What is the ground reality?

  3. What are the government’s plans to balance the pollution that may that may be caused by the implementation of the Make in India programme?

Answers from the Indian Prime Minister:

  1. With regard to the measures undertaken to increase awareness among the common folk, Mr. Modi stated that the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan had taken the message of need for cleanliness and sanitation, to every nook and corner of the country. Celebrities were roped in to mainstream the idea of cleanliness.

  2. India is taking steps to address issues of financially unviable state electricity retailers and an inadequate grid.  For example, the Green Energy Corridor (GEC)—an initiative conceptualized and executed by the POWERGRID Corporation of India Limited and other state transmission utilities—will commission new transmission infrastructure to allow more renewables to be put on the grid, while at the same time tackling problems with power intermittency. The project has been making steady progress across different states like Andhra PradeshRajasthan and Tamil Nadu.

  3. Modi said that Make in India would be following cleanest way of production and processing. The China Model will not be followed and there won’t be any employment of yesteryear technologies, which are highly polluting.

To the Chinese President:

  1. How does the Chinese government plan to address the pollution abroad, which would inevitably take place, with its huge economic forays?

  2. What measures were taken to control the pollution caused by China’s actions in the South China Sea?

Answers from the Chinese President:

  1. Jinping promised stringent measures to reduce pollution abroad, as well as within China. He stated that his government has taken dramatic steps in order to comply with the coal capacity target laid out in its latest five year plan. A total of 104 planned and under construction coal power projects with a capacity of 120 GW have been suspended. The new policy advocates moving from coal dependency to coal efficiency.

  2. The President claimed that no harm has been caused to the environment in the South China Sea region. No environmentally degrading activity has been undertaken and there has been no drilling. Construction of artificial islands, Mr. Xi said, had no harmful effect on the South China Sea ecosystem. He also stated that all the concerned parties have been called for talks with regard to this issue.

Since there were many questions yet to be asked, the moderator pushed the remaining questions into the 2nd round.

To the Chinese President:

  1. With the President of the US striking down America’s commitments made in the Paris COP 21 Agreement, China becomes the de facto global leader in environmental protection and sustainability. Is China ready to take up this highly responsible role?

  2. What are the efforts made by the Chinese government to make the common man aware of environmental pollution and his responsibility in mitigating its effects?

  3. China can implement the OBOR project without any major pollution within its borders. But is it possible to do the same in other countries involved?

  Answers from the Chinese President:

  1. In answer to whether his country is prepared to take up this new and difficult role of being the global leader in the field of environmental sustainability, Mr. Xi asserted that China stands by its commitments as part of the COP 21 agreement. He said that there is no hesitancy to lead. Climate change is a global problem and is not limited to one nation. China will initially begin its action towards the attainment of the COP 21 goals, by increasing the share of non-fossil fuels in the global growth story.

  2. The President emphasised on the need for citizen-state collaboration for advancing the goals of environmental sustainability and reaching out to the society. Cooperation from the people was vital for the success of environmental protection programmes. There would be an employment of price mechanism to influence the psychology of the common man. Further, awareness programmes would be planned and implemented with more vigour.

  3. Xi responded briefly, stating that there would be a consistency in policies followed to implement OBOR and they would be in accordance with the prevailing international environmental protection norms.

Questions to the Indian Prime Minister:

  1. What are the common grounds and differences in the policies of India and China towards climate change and environmental sustainability?

Answers from the Indian Prime Minister:

  1. India and China share common concerns arising from climate change. The two countries face the imminent threat of ecological degradation due to climate change. The Prime Minister stated that India appreciates China’s backing, in international climate change negotiations, voicing the concerns of the developing world and ensuring that the issues of equity and justice are incorporated in any agreement. But Mr. Modi asserted that his government would always implement changes in a democratic fashion and move forward with everyone’s assent.

With the close of the 2nd round of questions, Mr. Sundeep opened the next session. The topic of Food Security was brought to discussion, with the two leaders giving their respective statements.

Mr. Jinping began by pointing out that since the agricultural transformation ushered in by the 1978 reforms, the real value has been doubled. The President also stated that there has been a change in the consumption pattern, with more people consuming food of higher quality. He said that agricultural growth rate has been around 3.5% – 4.5%. 1.679 billion acres were under cultivation, 0.735 billion tons of vegetable output has been produced and 0.158 billion tons of fruit output has been produced. He pointed out that the country had earned praise from the World Bank for its production model. Mr. Jinping claimed that a water-saving method, genetically modified crops and scientific fertilisers were being employed. China was well on its way of attaining its goals with regard to transgenic crops, by 2030. Besides, China had always stood by the principle of equity in the GATT and the WTO.

The moderator now invited the Indian Prime Minister to make his statement.

Mr. Modi said that timely and efficient procurement of the food stock has been in full swing. He stated that as planned, soil health card for 14 crore landholders, would be issued.   The Soil Health Card Scheme was inaugurated in February 2015. For this, 109 crore rupees have been released till December 2015. No government in the past has released money under this head. 568 crore rupees have been sanctioned for providing Soil Health Cards to all the farmers. In the years 2014-15 and 2015-16, 79 and 101 Soil Health Laboratories have been sanctioned. Similarly, 77 mobile Soil Testing Labs have been sanctioned. Detailed Crop Contingency Plans for 600 districts have been prepared. States have been advised to prepare/ update/ fine-tune Contingency Plans for each district in consultation with CRIDA-ICAR and the State Agriculture Universities. They have also been directed to prepare location specific remedial measures based on these contingency plans in the event of late arrival of monsoon/long dry spells/scanty rainfall/drought conditions.

With both the leaders having made their statements, the floor was open for questions.

Questions to the Indian Prime Minister:

  1. Of late, China has been involved in the activity of diverting the river Yangtze, towards its internal regions. This change in the course of Yangtze would significantly affect its flow to India, where it is known as Brahmaputra. This river is the lifeline of the North-Eastern states of India. To date there has been no river-sharing treaty. Is there any plan in the near future to sign a water-sharing treaty?

  2. What is the status of the interlinking of rivers? The major reason for high water consumption, is the cultivation of those crops which need a lot of water. To change this, there is a need to bring a change in the psychology of the people. The set of the people’s mind must be influenced, so as to consume crops which need less water, for instance replacing rice with soya. Is the Government involved in any such efforts?

  3. What will be India’s response to the recent commencement of dam construction in the river Yangtze by China?

Answers from the Indian Prime Minister:

  1. Modi stated that the government is monitoring all the Chinese dam building activities and is in close contact with Beijing on the issue. The objective is to move towards an expanded framework of cooperation for trans-border rivers. We have an expert-level mechanism which meets and shares hydrological data. Mr. Modi further stated that India will push China for a more robust arrangement on trans-border rivers.

  2. In answer to the question regarding changing the psychological status of the people towards certain crops, Mr. Modi stated that inter-linking of rivers cannot be the only solution. He said that the problem is not in the production of food but in the access to food. But the cultivation of high water-consumption crops like wheat, have been reduced, claimed the Prime Minister. But he also said that the consumption of rice can’t be replaced with soya, as it has been a civilizational practice throughout the country.

  3. Modi stated that there has been no significant damage on the lives of the North-Eastern community due to dam constructions undertaken by China.

Questions to the Chinese President:

  1. There are many problems associated with the Genetically Modified crops. What has the Chinese government decided with regard to this? What are the commitments of the New Development Bank towards the development of GM crops?

  2. What are measures planned by the Chinese government to prevent the large-scale appropriation of farm lands by the constructors?

Answers from the Chinese President:

  1. One of the reasons for advocating GM crops was to encourage the farmers to focus on commercial crops and to reduce their imports, said Mr. Jinping. Further, he stated that these GM crops were indigenously developed. GM crops from foreign soil would not be permitted inside China, stated the President. The Central Government will be cooperating increasingly with the Provincial Governments, according to Mr. Jinping. He further stated that, China hopes this technology would play a major role in boosting its food security. A social atmosphere beneficial for the healthy development of the GMO industry, would be created.

  2. Jinping stated that the government has stuck by international rules in appropriation of farmland for construction purposes, with no negative impact on the environment. The increased migration of farmers, towards the South from the Northern parts of China is only temporary and they would be redirected to their homes soon, said the President. He further stated that strict rules and enforcement with regard to the approval and regulation of appropriation of land for industrial purposes, were in place.

With the conclusion of the session on Food Security, the Moderator opened the final and most awaited session. The one on the One Belt One Road project and its aspects concerning India, namely the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and the Maritime Silk Road.

The anchor, Mr. Sundeep, invited the Indian Prime Minister to make his statement first.

The world needs India’s sustained development. India needs the same from the world. India is on the path of a steady growth in terms of military and security architecture. India always respected the sovereignty of other nations. It does not follow an exclusivist approach, and includes all nations. We appreciate regional connectivity for peace and progress. We attach great importance to China, which is our largest neighbour. The current state of affairs in Economic relations and trade don’t do justice to our potential. We must work together and expedite discussions to address any concerns. The Prime Minister signed off by saying that, India is willing to cooperate with China on various issues, including pharmaceutical supervision, including registration, speedier phytosanitary negotiations on agro-products and two-way trade and stronger links between Indian IT companies and Chinese enterprises.

The Moderator invited the Chinese President to make his statement on this final session.

The President emphatically stated that the huge Chinese investments in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor should not be viewed as a challenge to India’s sovereignty. The CPEC is simply an economic project. China has no intention of using the Belt and Road initiative to recognise any geo-political sphere of influence. Our open mind towards cooperation on the B&R initiative should dispel misgivings held by India and some other countries. Further, Mr. Jinping stated that the vast network of highways and railways to be built will link the sea ports in Gwadar and Karachi with Northern Pakistan. Moreover, it would also connect with Western China and Central Asia. The Karakoram Highway connecting the China border with Rawalpindi in Pakistan, would be completely reconstructed and overhauled. The President also stated that CPEC was an important component of the 13th five-year plan.

The President said that the Maritime Silk Road would promote freedom of navigation, cooperation in security and build a new structure of joint development of marine resources. 90% of China’s external trade took place along the maritime shipping lanes. The MSR would help offset the excessive production in China. It will facilitate export orientation of trade, especially with regard to cement and steel. China believes that it should establish a great power diplomacy with Chinese characteristics and regain its naval superpower status. The goal was the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and realisation of the Chinese dream. The Chinese dream consisted of attaining a GDP, by 2021, which is twice that of the GDP in 2010. Moreover, by 2049, it aimed to achieve a prosperous and harmonious country based on Socialism with Chinese characteristics.

With the end of the President’s statement, the anchor commenced the Q&A session.

Questions to the Chinese President:

  1. India has never questioned the One China policy. India understands the sensitiveness of the Chinese towards this issue and always addresses it cautiously. But the Chinese show no reciprocation. How is it morally right to invest and begin construction in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, also known as Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir, towards which India is equally sensitive?

  2. Is MSR a manifestation of the String of Pearls theory or are these two plans, in nature, confronting each other?

Answers from the Chinese President;

  1. The OBOR initiative of economic development and connectivity has been endorsed by the UNSC. This, Mr. Jinping said, showed the consensus of the International Community on embracing the concept, and manifesting huge Chinese contributions to the global governance. With regard to India’s concerns on CPEC passing through disputed territory of Kashmir, China has said that when the issue is resolved, it will honour the resolution. However the President acknowledged the harmful elements of the project, as the region is highly unstable. But it will move ahead with the project, with Pakistan’s support, backing and security.

  2. Jinping stated that the Maritime Silk Road was not in confrontation with the String of Pearls theory. He insisted that its investment in regional maritime infrastructure is economically motivated — and pointed out that it will bring economic benefits to host countries.

Questions to the Indian Prime Minister:

  1. Why doesn’t the Indian Government create a pro-active programme to advance it geo-political and economic interests? Why does it always wait for the Chinese to introduce some programme and then create one in response to it, like MAUSAM?

Answers from the Indian Prime Minister:

  1. Modi quickly denied the claims that MAUSAM was in response to Chinese programmes. Rather, both MASUAM and Sagar-Mala are pro-active programmes with their own independent interests. Their primary aim was to reconnect and re-establish communication. The unique idea of MAUSAM was to showcase the Transnational Mixed Route on the World Heritage List. It is a Ministry of Culture project to be implemented by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts as the nodal coordinating agency with the support of Archaeological Survey of India and National Museum as associate bodies.

The Moderator opened the General Q&A round, as planned.

Questions to the Chinese President:

  1. The Dalai Lama is a religious figure, who has no harmful notions. He himself, has proclaimed that it is in the interests of Tibet to stay within China, but with more freedom and autonomy. When a person of his stature visits religious places within the integral parts of India in the North-East, China opposes this and lodges protests vehemently. But when it comes to Masood Azhar, a person who is associated with a terrorist group and who has been accused of horrendous terrorist attacks and conspiracies, why is China blocking India’s attempts to blacklist him?

Answers from the Chinese President:

  1. The hold on India’s bid to blacklist Masood Azhar is temporary and will be removed at once when India produces compelling evidence. Currently, the Chinese government is working closely with the Indian authorities, scrutinising the evidence. But as of now, no credible evidence has been produced by the Indian side. China would like to advise India to engage more in dialogue with Pakistan on various issues concerning both of them, including that of Masood Azhar.

With this, the exciting and highly informative mock summit conducted by C3S as part of YMC3S programme, was concluded. The Moderator declared the summit to have closed.

(Compiled by Yogesh Kumaran, Student of Integrated M.A, Dept. of Humanities and Social sciences, Institute of Technology Madras. and Member, Young Minds of C3S.)

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