Gangtok: Luo Zhaohui, the ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, called on Sikkim governor Ganga Prasad at the New Raj Bhawan in Gangtok on Friday evening.
As per a press release, it was a courtesy call by the Chinese diplomat on his arrival in Gangtok from Yadong county in Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) via Nathu La border on Friday afternoon. The diplomat had crossed over to Yadong on Thursday from Nathu La as a part of his four-day official visit along Indo-Chinese border in Sikkim and TAR.
At the meeting in Raj Bhawan, Zhaohui was accompanied by commercial counsellor Li Baijun and Yang Tianwen, the director of the political section of Chinese Embassy.
During the interaction with the governor, the Chinese ambassador suggested to enhance bilateral border trade between Sikkim and TAR through Nathu La by increasing the number of permissible items. He also stressed on the greater need of people to people exchange between Sikkim and TAR alongside trade and tourism and called for an efficient communicative mechanism for smooth flow of goods and people along the trade route.
Mentioning that the opening of border trade and Kailash Manasarovar Yatra through Nathu La has brought both nations closer, Zhaohui further suggested for relaxation of certain regulations for greater and smooth flow of people from both sides which China is having with other neighbouring countries.
Citing China as a big market for organic goods and Sikkimese handicrafts, the diplomat also showed keen interest in exploring collaboration in organic horticulture and floriculture in Sikkim. The Chinese diplomat extended invitation to the governor to visit TAR in a bid to increase diplomatic exchanges between the two regions, the release informed.
The governor expressed his delight on the invitation extended and thanked the Chinese ambassador for his concern towards bringing both nation closer in terms of economic and technological collaborations based on mutual benefit.
Prasad sought the assistance from China to promote tourism, organic farming and indigenous products from Sikkim. He conveyed the country’s gratitude to the Chinese government for supporting India’s stand and proposal to designate Maulana Masood Azhar as global terrorist through the United Nations.
Prasad further assured to take up the issues raised by the ambassador at the appropriate forum including the Union government and underlined the need to capitalise the potential that both the neighbouring country with a combined population of over 2.70 billion, the release mentions.
Later, the Chinese diplomat also called on incumbent chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling at his official residence Mintokgang.
Sharing details of the meeting in his social media page, the CM mentioned that the Chinese ambassador shared that the primary purpose of his visit to Sikkim was to improve upon the economic cooperation, vis-a-vis bilateral trade between the two countries through the Nathu La corridor.
Zhaohui shared a few main concerns that could be addressed to improve border trade between the Sikkim side and TAR, mentioned Chamling.
The improvement that could be done as shared in the meeting were that number of hours per day of border trade could be increased; both sides would benefit if trade would be open for seven days a week instead of the existing four days; and better efficiency and cooperation from the customs officials in the Indian side would facilitate better business for the traders.
It was also sought that the stipulated items for trade could be increased to accommodate more items from both sides of the border. Free movement of officials and technical persons up to the trade marts on both sides of the border and development of Nathu La as a dry port to increase the volume of trade was also shared in the meeting.
“I thanked His Excellency for his visit to Sikkim and for his valuable observations to improve the border trade between the two countries. I welcomed his suggestions and assured to take up all the issues with the Government of India. I said that the State government would correspond with the Government of India for enhancing the number of days for trade to seven days a week. I stated that Nathu La today is a ‘smiling border’ due to the bilateral trade between the two countries. I also suggested some measures to improve the volume of trade and local economy on both sides,” Chamling said in a social media post.
The CM also shared with the Chinese diplomat that he has suggested to the Indian government to consider a bus service between Gangtok and Lhasa through Nathu La. This would further strengthen the economy in the fringe areas on both sides of the border, and also boost tourism, he said. This would be in line with the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage route through Nathu La, which has opened up vistas of opportunities for pilgrimage and cultural exchanges between the two countries, he said.
“I also expressed my desire to visit China to gain insights from the economic superpower as China,” posted Chamling.
At the meeting, the CM shared with the Chinese ambassador about some of the unique initiatives taken by Sikkim, especially in environmental conservation.