The shift from the old cramped structure to an expansive, modern building was long overdue

The Indian Embassy in China on Tuesday moved to a sprawling, $10-million premises in the heart of the capital, getting, after 42 years, a modern new home which, officials said, was designed to address the growing demands of a fast-expanding bilateral relationship.

The expansive 13,500-square metre compound is a marked difference from the old property in the capital's Ritan Park area — a two-storey, old-fashioned and increasingly cramped wooden structure where Indian officials had moved into in 1969.

“As the relationship has grown, our functions as an embassy have also expanded,” Ambassador to China S. Jaishankar said.

Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo, who will travel to New Delhi next week for the 15th round of talks on the border dispute, is expected to attend a cultural performance at the new embassy on Wednesday evening to mark its opening.

A formal inauguration, to be presided over by an official from New Delhi, will be held later this year.

The old property, which India acquired on a 99-year lease and houses the ambassador's residence today too, would be used for other activities, Mr. Jaishankar said.

The embassy's move to a new location was long overdue, with India functioning out of a property that was acquired when diplomatic engagement was minimal. Chinese visitors to the Ritan Park compound were often surprised by the old-fashioned premises, where 29 diplomats, 33 other Indian staff members and 28 Chinese staff members worked.

The land for the new site was bought in 1989 for around $1 million on a 90-year lease. The new embassy is located in the central Liangmaqiao area, close to the United States and Israeli embassies and many office buildings.

The move from Ritan is the second time the Embassy's location has been changed. Before 1969, the embassy was in the foreign legation quarter near Tiananmen Square. It was damaged during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), after which many embassies moved to designated diplomatic enclaves in the city.

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