External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna will kick-off a year-long celebration of Indian culture in China during his Beijing visit next month, as the two countries mark 60 years of diplomatic ties.

During his visit in April first week, he will also hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.

The year-long “Festival of India” is being organised by the Government of India in several Chinese cities to celebrate six decades of established diplomatic relations between the two countries.

India and China established diplomatic ties on April 1, 1950 and India was the first non-Socialist country to establish relations with the People's Republic of China — a fact often forgotten in the aftermath of the 1962 war, which left a legacy of lingering tensions and a long-running border dispute.

The border issue — over which talks have made little progress — will no doubt feature in Mr. Krishna's discussions with Chinese officials. But Indian officials hope the year-long festivities in both countries — China will also be hosting a festival in India — will help the two countries turn the corner after a year of renewed strains in relations.

The festival will be launched here by Mr. Krishna on April 7, with the staging of a Ratan Thiyam play in Beijing's prestigious Forbidden City Concert Hall.

The play is based on the life of Emperor Ashoka and his conversion to Buddhism — one of the “two Bs” that, for most Chinese, almost entirely defines Indian culture. The other, Bollywood, will also be featured prominently in the festivities, officials said.

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