China is looking to next week’s four-day visit of Vice President Hamid Ansari – the first from India following the general elections — to mark the start of a “a closer partnership” in bilateral relations, amid high expectations in Beijing that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will energise recently troubled trade ties.

Chinese officials said on Friday Mr. Ansari’s visit to Beijing and Xian — the ancient capital in central China famed for its terracotta warriors and historical links with India through Buddhism — would be of particular importance “under the new circumstances” surrounding the bilateral relationship.

Their comments came as a State media commentary said both countries “can be optimistic about the future because Narendra Modi, India's new Prime Minister, has promised to focus on reform and economic development”.

The Vice President was invited to visit China to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the “five principles of peaceful coexistence”, along with Myanmar President Thein Sein.

“This will be the first for an Indian leader since the inception of the new Indian government in May,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying. “We believe this visit is of great significance to the growth of China, India relationship under the new circumstances.”

“China,” she added, “would like to work with India to seek a closer partnership and achieve common development.”

Mr. Ansari will meet President Xi Jinping, who will host a commemoration for the anniversary, Premier Li Keqiang and Vice President Li Yuanchao.

On Friday, the official English-language China Daily published a commentary saying both countries “can be optimistic about the future” because of Mr. Modi’s “focus on reform and economic development”.

“Since Modi is said to have studied the Chinese economic model and visited Shanghai, and Guangdong and Sichuan provinces to get first-hand knowledge of China's investment promotion, it is likely that the two countries will enter a new age of cooperation,” suggested Xu Changwen, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a think-tank linked to the Commerce Ministry.

“India could further open up its domestic market to China, making it possible for more Chinese companies to invest in India and for products made in India by Chinese companies to be redirected to the Chinese market”.

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