The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Let’s talk business, comrade
- Chinese economic delegation to visit Bengal next week

Beijing, Nov. 12: Chinese comrades-turned-businessmen go to Calcutta next week to test Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s tryst with reforms. It’s up to West Bengal’s Marxist chief minister to convince them he is now a communist of their mould — good enough to do business with.

A high-level delegation of the Chinese ministry of foreign trade and economic cooperation, led by senior official Xu Xu, will visit Calcutta to explore possibilities of building a power project in West Bengal.

He will be accompanied by senior representatives of several Chinese companies that export power project equipment.

Although Chinese companies have been involved in building power projects in other states of India such as Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, this will be the first time that an official Chinese delegation will look at a similar opportunity in Marxist Bengal.

The Chinese delegation’s trip comes close on the heels of West Bengal power minister Mrinal Banerjee’s visit to China earlier this year.

“It’s up to the communists in Bengal to sell the state for a Chinese venture there,” an official of the Indian embassy told The Telegraph this morning.

“But it’s for sure that they can’t expect to lure the Chinese with their communism,” he said.

Referring to the Japanese-aided projects in Bengal — the flyover construction in Calcutta, the power station at Bakreswar and the Mitsubishi chemical plant at Haldia — the Indian official said the Chinese would be more circumspect in taking investment decisions in the state. The reason simply is that the Chinese do not have “as much money”.

The other, long-awaited Chinese rendezvous with Calcutta may, however, take a while to materialise. It has been more than 10 years since the Chinese approached India for a consular office in Calcutta.

China has not raised the issue in recent years. But chances are that if they do, they might now want to open a second consular office (the present one is in Mumbai), not in the backwaters of Calcutta, but in the IT-proud city of Hyderabad or Bangalore.

More reason for Bhattacharjee not to miss out on next week’s Chinese chase.

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