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WEF 2018: PM Modi's anti-protectionism stance gets praise from Beijing     January 24, 2018

While China and India have little that they agree upon, the two biggest growing economies seem to have found common ground in their disagreement with protectionist policies. Beijing has praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech at the World Economic Forum 2018 for his stance against protectionism.

In his keynote address during the opening plenary of WEF 2018, Modi comapred the impact of protectionism with that of terrorism.

"I noticed that Prime Minister Modi made some remarks on protectionism and his remarks showed that globalisation is the trend of the times and serves the interests of all the countries including developing countries and the fight against protectionism and promoting globalisation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said during a press meet.

China has hailed this point of view and expressed interest to strengthen ties with India to boost globalisation for the benefit of other countries.

"China and India share a lot of common interests. China would like to enhance coordination and cooperation with all countries including India to steer the economic globalisation towards benefiting world economic growth and well-being of all countries," Hua said.

The unexpected appreciation from China came after official media in the country played Modi's Davos speech big. Chinese dailies like Global Times carried the report on their front pages.

Modi became the first Indian prime minister in two decades to speak at the WEF. Apart from protectionism, he raised crucial global issues like terrorism and climate change in his speech.

"Many countries are becoming inward focused and globalisation is shrinking and such tendencies can't be considered lesser risk than terrorism or climate change," he had said.

Chinese premier Xi Jinping had spoken firmly against the protectionist policies of the Unites Stated at the WEF last year. Beijing has been opposing the 'America First' policy of the Donald Trump administration.

When asked that Modi's speech followed the theme of Xi's speech, advocating globalisation, last year at the same forum, Hua said Xi called for moving globalisation to a more open, inclusive, universal, balanced and win-win direction.

The recent changes in visa policies in the US under the 'Buy American, Hire American' executive order have taken a toll on the Indian economy too, the IT sector in particular. Restrictions on H1-B via under this policy are expected to impact the American service sector too.

Meanwhile, China's reputation as the world's manufacturing hub stands to take a hit on account of the rising protectionist tendencies. China has managed to build up a strong manufacturing sector, catering to the global entities, in the past thirty years with the help of globalisation. This has resulted in double-digit GDP growth rates for years on account of massive exports to everywhere in the world.

On the question of whether the shared interests of India and China to check protectionism could help improve strained bilateral ties, Hua said "Our position is clear. India is a big neighbour of China. As the two largest developing countries and as two close neighbours, of course we hope that we can maintain steady development of bilateral relations. It serves the interests of our two sides".

"We look forward to working with India to enhance our communication and our mutual trust, properly handle our differences and ensure sound and steady development of our bilateral ties. I believe this is the aspiration of the people of our countries," she said.

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