Indian PM to make trip to China

By Qin Jize (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-01-04 07:56

For Atul Dalakoti, a fluent Mandarin-speaking Indian businessman, his first pleasure in the New Year will be to receive his prime minister in Beijing, a place Dalakoti called home for the past 30 years.

The 43-year-old Peking University graduate came to China with his family at the age of 13 and gradually grew into an Indian industrial leader here.

Being the executive director of the China Office of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Dalakoti is glad to work as a bridge between the two sides using his knowledge and relations.

"Sino-Indian cooperation is key to the 21st century. We do have competition but cooperation is the priority," said Dalakoti.

To his joy, Chinese statistics showed that trade between the world's two largest developing nations boomed to $34.2 billion from January to November last year, up 54 per cent from the same period the previous year.

"The rapid growth in bilateral trade has been attributed to the improving relations between the two countries," Dalakoti said, adding that he is looking forward to an even rosier economic future brought by warming bilateral ties.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu announced Thursday that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singhwould make his first official visit to China as prime minister from January 13-15.

Singh is scheduled to give a speech at one of the capital's top academic institutions.

"China and India are two largest developing countries in the world and both face the same tasks of development. We also work on ensuring regional and world peace and stability," Jiang told the regular news briefing.

"We are willing to bring the strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries to a new level," she added.

It is widely believed that border disputes, economic cooperation, India's bid for a permanent seat at the UN Security Council and free trade will top the agenda during the visit.

According to Jiang, the two sides held three rounds of talks at special representative level last year.

"We will make joint efforts to try to find a fair and rational settlement that is acceptable to both countries," she added.

From the eyes of an Indian businessman in Beijing, Dalakoti said he felt ties between the two countries were getting better and better.

"I understand that frequent trips and meetings between Indian and Chinese leaders are key to fostering closer understanding and economic co-operation," Dalakoti said.

President Hu Jintao visited India in November 2006, the first trip by a Chinese president in a decade. And Indian Congress Party President Sonia Gandhi became the first foreign leader to visit China after the 17th Party Congress last October.

The two countries also held their first-ever anti-terror drills at the end of last year, involving about 100 soldiers from each side.

According to Dalakoti's sources, more than 30 of India's leading businessmen will accompany Singh to visit China this time.

"Deals are expected to be made in areas such as infrastructure construction and telecommunications," he said.

Chinese experts think highly of Singh's upcoming visit, saying the trip will help the two countries deepen cooperation in many areas.

"The Sino-Indian ties will continue to develop as the two countries are highly complementary economically," said Wu Jianmin, president of China Foreign Affairs University and a former senior diplomat, in a recent interview.

He said China attaches great importance to its emerging neighbor and increasing common interests would push cooperation at both bilateral and multilateral levels.

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