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India Opens Up Sensitive Region Earlier Closed for Chinese Investment - Minister

© REUTERS / Pawan KumarSupporters of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrate after learning of the initial poll results at the party headquarters in Lucknow, India March 11, 2017
Supporters of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrate after learning of the initial poll results at the party headquarters in Lucknow, India March 11, 2017 - Sputnik International
This marks India’s clear departure from its traditional approach of keeping China away from its northeastern eastern peripheries, mainly due to security concerns. This thaw in approach has been most visible after the informal summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan, China earlier this year.

Guwahati (Sputnik): The northeastern part of India which shares a long stretch of border with China is for the first time ready to welcome Chinese investments, Himanta Biswa Sarma, a prominent face of the ruling Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) told Sputnik. By doing so, India aims to boost bilateral trade with China by at least 20% in the next few years.

"They are welcome but all Chinese investment has to qualify the guidelines, security clearance and other norms which are in existence," Himanta Biswa Sarma told Sputnik in an exclusive interview at his residence in Guwahati.

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) gestures while talking with China's President Xi Jingping during the BRICS leaders' meeting with the BRICS Business Council at the Taj Exotica hotel in Goa on October 16, 2016 - Sputnik International
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Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is considered the face of Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in the northeast, is currently the Minister of Public Works Department, Finance and Health in the government of Assam, North East India's largest state.

Sources told Sputnik that China's pharmaceutical companies may take lead in investment in this part of India. Earlier this week, Pema Khandu, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, another northeastern state of India, pitched for increased border trade with China and Myanmar using the 3057 kilometer historic Stillwell Road that begins in Assam and ends in China's Yunnan province after passing through Arunachal Pradesh and Myanmar's Kachin state.

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"We need to look at this region from the lens of trade. If there can be a trade (with China) through Nathu La pass in Sikkim or through Lipulekh pass in Uttarakhand, why can't there be trade through Stillwell Road," Pema Khandu said in a recent conference?

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The statement made by two prominent political figures of the North East come in the backdrop of a proposal put up by the three northeastern states namely Nagaland, Assam and Tripura before the Chinese authorities in August this year seeking limited Chinese investment in the region.

Meanwhile, the Indian government is considering opening up its northeastern route for China to connect with Bangladesh's Chittagong port for Ocean trade. Discussions are on between the two countries on that front, according to highly placed sources.

"In the last two years, dredging in Barak and Brahmaputra River for improving connectivity with Bangladesh is going on. I think it will take another three-four years to see the physical infrastructure and final result in terms of improved trade and commerce," Himanta Biswa Sarma told Sputnik.  

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