‘Wen: China, India can lead world in IT’
(AFP Times | April 12, 2005)

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao yesterday toured India's hi-tech capital and called for closer co-operation to launch the "Asian century" of information technology.

India's software skills combined with China's dominance in hardware can trigger a tectonic shift in the global technological landscape, Wen said at the offices of Tata Consultancy Services, the country's biggest provider of software development and outsourcing services.

"Co-operation is just like two pagodas. One hardware and one software. Combined we can take the leadership position in the world," said Wen, who arrived in Bangalore on Saturday from Sri Lanka on a tour of South Asian nations.

He visited the Bangalore offices of Huawei Technologies, China's largest telecoms maker which employs 800 Indian and 30 Chinese and plans to invest $100mn in the country.

Wen also toured the Indian Space Research Organsaition (ISRO) and the Indian Institute of Science and Technology in Bangalore, where a Tibetan protester shouted anti-China slogans and tossed down pamphlets from a tower that he had scaled.

The protester — identified by police as Tenzin Tsundue, general secretary of the Friends of Tibet — surprised police when he emerged from the tower of the Victorian-era building after Wen arrived.

Tsundue had threatened protests against Chinese rule in Tibet before Wen's visit, even though Bangalore police refused a permit to hold demonstrations.

India has played host to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile since he fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Wen was inside the research centre addressing top Indian scientists during the incident, police and witness said. He left for New Delhi shortly afterwards.

His first official meeting in New Delhi yesterday was with the chief of the ruling Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi.

A meeting with External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh scheduled for yesterday evening has been postponed to today.

Wen will also hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today to discuss a possible free trade agreement and a long-running border dispute that led to a brief war in 1962.

China, the world's fastest-growing major economy, is a manufacturing hub for mobile phones, textiles, cars and industrial equipment and is eyeing co-operation with India to expand its access to software.

"If India and China co-operate in the information technology industry we will be able to lead the world technology industry and when that particular day comes it will signify the coming of the Asian century of the IT industry," Wen said.

India's software sector contributes 4% to the country's gross domestic product and grew 43% during the fiscal year to March 2004. The industry is expected to earn $75bn by 2008.

The technology sector has added $45bn to India's foreign exchange reserves since 1998 and employs 850,000 people, according to government figures.

Wen noted that India's growth in software mirrors China's efforts in manufacturing.

"Just a few years ago we used to produce 5mn cellphones annually and now we are producing more than 100mn phones. Now China has more than 500mn phones of which 50% are fixed lines and 50% are mobile phones," he said.

S Ramadorai, chief executive of Tata Consultancy Services, said his company was exploring opportunities for collaboration in the technology sector.

"India is a leader in software and China in hardware. There are a number of things we can learn from each other. China has a strong domestic IT industry and we are exploring possibilities (of co-operation)," Ramadorai said.

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