Chinese premier starts official visit to India in maiden foreign tour

 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang waves upon his arrival at an airport in New Delhi, India,

kicking off his  official visit to the country, on May 19, 2013.   Photo by Ju Peng

 

By Meng Na

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in New Delhi on Sunday afternoon of May 19 for the first leg of his maiden foreign trip since he took office in March.

During his visit, Li will meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari, Chairman of Rajya Sabha (the Upper House) of India’s Parliament and Vice President.

He is also expected to deliver a speech on China-India ties and visit India’s commercial capital, Mumbai.

The two countries will sign a series of agreements on cooperation in trade, agriculture, environmental protection and culture.

In a written statement issued upon his arrival, Li extended sincere greetings and best wishes to the Indian government and the 1.2 billion Indian people on behalf of the Chinese government and the 1.3 billion Chinese people.

China and India are friendly neighbors linked by mountains and rivers, said the Chinese premier, hailing the development of bilateral relations since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1950.

In the 21st century, political exchanges between the two countries are getting more frequent and practical cooperation is expanding, Li said.

Nowadays, both China and India are speeding up their development, making steady efforts to boost their economy and improve people’s lives, and sharing deepening convergence of interests, he added.

Cooperation between China and India means that the two great civilizations can learn from each other, the two major markets complement each other, the two major emerging economies fulfill common development, and the two neighboring countries achieve mutual benefit and win-win results, according to the statement.

It is in line with the fundamental interests of the two countries and the two peoples that China and India maintain peaceful and friendly relations and join hands to realize national rejuvenation, the Chinese premier said, adding it is also a blessing to Asia and the world at large.

China regarded India as an important partner and friend, he said.

“I am looking forward to exchanging views with Indian leaders on bilateral ties and regional and global issues of common concern,” Li added.

Li also expressed confidence that his visit would strengthen mutual trust, deepen cooperation, expand common interests and consolidate bilateral friendship, which would inject new vigor into the China-India strategic cooperative partnership for peace and prosperity.

The choice of India as the first stop of Li’s maiden foreign tour indicates the great importance Beijing attaches to its relations with India.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said China hoped the visit could further cement the strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries, strengthen cooperation in such fields as investment, trade and infrastructure, explore complementary advantages, and achieve mutually beneficial results.

China also wants to strengthen communication and coordination with India on international and regional affairs, so as to make greater contribution to peace and stability in the region and the world as a whole, it said.

Li told an India youth delegation on Wednesday that “China and India are important neighbors and partners by nature. Bilateral ties are developing continuously and steadily with fruitful results being made in the cooperation of every field.”

The China-India relationship is not only of great strategic significance to Asia and the world, but also concerns the destiny and interests of the two countries’ combined population of 2.5 billion, Li told the delegation.

Shortly after Li became premier, Singh congratulated him over the phone. During the conversation, Li said China would, as always, attach great importance to its relations with India and would work with India to further promote their strategic cooperative partnership.

Bilateral trade between China and India has grown strongly in recent years, with a total volume reaching 66.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2012.

China has become India’s second largest trade partner and India is China’s largest trade partner in South Asia.

The two sides aim to expand bilateral trade to 100 billion dollars by 2015, a goal set by the two countries’ leaders.

China and India are enjoying sound project cooperation, with India becoming an important market for China in this field. Two-way investment is also steadily increasing.

After India, Li will visit Pakistan, Switzerland and Germany.

 

 

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