China and India, old neighbors divided by the world's highest
mountains, are welcoming a historic moment in their relations with
Chinese President Hu Jintao's upcoming visit on Monday.
"President Hu's visit is a landmark in China-India relations.
The most important task of this tour is to enrich the strategic
partnership between China and India," said Sun Yuxi, Chinese
ambassador to India.
The two countries decided to establish strategic cooperative
partnership for peace and prosperity when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited India in April last
During Hu's visit, the two countries will discuss how to fully
push forward the bilateral ties and sign a series of agreements on
their cooperation in such fields as politics, energy, trade,
investment, tourism and culture, Sun said.
The two Asian giants had remained indifferent to each other for
about four decades, but in the past few years, their relations are
quickly warming up with more and more cooperation in politics,
economy and culture.
Official figures showed about 90 senior Chinese officials have
visited India in the first 10 months of this year and vice
For several times in 2006, the China-India Friendship Year,
residents in India's capital New Delhi have seen Siri Fort Theatre,
where many major performances were put on, decorated with bright
red, the typical Chinese lucky color.
Chinese acrobatics, Beijing Opera, traditional dance and singing
won lots of Indian audience, including Sonia Gandhi, chairman of
Congress Party that leads the ruling coalition in India. She and
her family joined the storm of applause when watching the
performance of Chinese acrobats in September.
Being a housewife in a mid-class family in south Delhi, Rita
Joshi had shown little interest in political topics in the past,
but even she has noticed the changing India-China relations.
"More and more frequently I have seen the term of 'China'
mentioned in Indian media, from TV to newspapers," she said.
Rita's husband works as a captain on an oil tanker and has a
hobby of collecting handicrafts from all over the world, but their
lovely collection did not include those from China.
"Now I am starting to realize we have missed quite an important
part. Next time he will try to find some Chinese art crafts," she
Heated economic ties
Businessmen in China and India are those benefiting most from
the warming bilateral ties.
"The Indian business circle is optimistic about the future
economic cooperation between India and China. We are satisfied with
the fast growth of bilateral trade," said Saroj Kumar Poddar,
president of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and
The China-India trade volume topped US$18.7 billion in 2005, up
146 percent over 2003. This year, the total volume is expected to
reach US$23.5 billion, fulfilling the target set by Premier Wen and
his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh two years earlier.
"We hope that the bilateral trade will top 100 billion dollars
in the next six to seven years," Poddar said.
Some have worried about the possible tough competition between
India and China as they shared lots of similarity such as low labor
cost, big markets and fast economic growth, he said.
"But with a careful and detailed study, you will find that India
and China have advantages in many different fields. The two
countries should find something complementary when competing with
each other in a healthy manner," Poddar said.
"I believe, for any international investors, it is not China
'or' India, it is China 'and' India," he added.
Ease on borders
Another breakthrough of China-India relations this year fell on
the Nathu La pass, the mountain trade point linking China's Tibet
and India's Sikkim.
The two countries reopened the border trade across the pass in
July this year after a standstill of 44 years.
Indian media cheered for the reopening, saying the two countries
took an important step forward on the road to peace and
For centuries, merchants had shipped Chinese silk and tea and
Indian spices across the Nathu La pass along the ancient Silk Road,
but it had become a heavily guarded border due to a dispute between
the two countries.
The reopening of Nathu La has not only presented a profitable
chance for bilateral trade, but also signaled a new attitude over
the border dispute long haunting the two countries.
C. Raja Mohan, a renowned China expert in India, told Xinhua
that it will be the best chance for the two countries to improve
understanding and cooperation when President Hu visits India.
"We hope leaders of the two countries will come up with a
direction over future development and raise the bilateral ties to a
higher level," Mohan said.
He borrowed a song of American singer Frank Sinatra to describe
the future of the two countries. "I believe, for us, 'the best is
yet to come.'"
(Xinhua News Agency November 20, 2006)