China and India held a seminar here on Wednesday to commemorate a 1988 visit by the late Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, a history-making development in bilateral relations.
China and India established diplomatic relations in 1950. Four years later, then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru made the first China visit. But relations soured over border issues in the 1960s.
Since 1976, when the two countries resumed the exchange of ambassadors, bilateral relations have gradually improved.
When Gandhi visited China, it was the first visit by an Indian prime minister since 1954.
"Rajiv Gandhi visited China with great courage and perseverance, which opened a new chapter in the history of Sino-Indian relations. The two countries witnessed increasing exchanges and cooperation in various fields, as well as deepening mutual understanding and trust," said Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping in a congratulatory letter to the seminar.
Xi said cooperation between China and India, the world's two biggest developing countries, will benefit the two peoples and promote the peace and development of Asia and the world as a whole.
President of the Indian National Congress Sonia Gandhi, who is Rajiv Gandhi's widow, said in a congratulatory letter that India and China face similar developmental tasks and common challenges, such as the financial crisis. The two countries should strengthen understanding and cooperation, since they have bigger responsibilities to the region and the world.
The seminar is co-sponsored by the China Center for Contemporary World Study and the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.
(Xinhua News Agency December 17, 2008)