China, India fine tune relationship

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China and India, dubbed the "double engines" of Asian economic development, are committed to a closer relationship that seeks further political and economic benefits, said the presidents of the two countries on Thursday.

President Hu Jintao meets his Indian counterpart Pratibha Patil in Beijing Thursday, May 27, 2010.

President Hu Jintao meets his Indian counterpart Pratibha Patil in Beijing Thursday, May 27, 2010.

President Hu Jintao and his Indian counterpart Pratibha Patil attended a signing ceremony in Beijing for three bilateral agreements including cooperation on visa application formalities for airline staff.

Patil is the first Indian head of state in a decade to visit China, marking an Indian push to strengthen bilateral ties, which have been troubled recently by trade disputes.

Patil told Hu that trade is the backbone of bilateral ties, and she hoped the two sides can work together to realize the existing trade target.

Hu agreed with his guest, calling on the two sides to expand trade and improve cooperation in finance, agriculture and technology.

"We should create a more relaxed environment for mutual investment and projects, and oppose any form of protectionism," Hu was quoted as saying in a foreign ministry press release.

Patil arrived as the two countries celebrate the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties. With China's Vice President Xi Jinping, she will take part in the celebration reception on Friday.

Her six-day visit will also take her to the India pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai and to Central China's Luoyang city, where she will attend a temple ceremony commemorating the arrival of Buddhism from India 2,000 years ago.

Analysts say the Indian president's rare visit to China is conducive to the improvement of economic ties.

"India has unbalanced trading ties with China and India wishes China could loosen its criteria on Indian tobacco, agricultural and aquatic import goods," said Hu Shisheng, a scholar of South Asia studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"Indian enterprises also anticipate selling more vehicle components, software, iron ore and medical products to the Chinese market," Hu said.

Indians frequently complain about a flood of Chinese exports that account for about two-thirds of bilateral trade, which grew by about 33 percent in 2008 to nearly $52 billion, but declined by as much as $10 billion last year amid disputes and the global economic slowdown.

Ding Hao, a research fellow under China's Academy of Military Science, said "Patil's China tour will also lessen and prevent incidental border clashes and improve military trust and relations between the two countries."

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