Special Correspondent

Chinese President commends the great progress made by the two countries in bilateral relations in recent years

New Delhi: The "parallel rise" of India and China and the potential contribution of both countries to global stability and peace were the main themes in the speeches made by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and President Hu Jintao of China at the Rashtrapati Bhavan banquet thrown Tuesday night in honour of Mr. Hu.

In his speech, Mr. Kalam noted that around the year 1750, "China and India together accounted for almost two-thirds of the total world trade before colonisation of both our countries." Our mission today in the area of trade "should always lead to higher and more competitive output." This would lead to a more prosperous world, he said.

India, Mr. Kalam said, looks at China's rapid development with deep interest and appreciation. Close cooperation between the two countries is imperative for the overall betterment of humanity. Stressing the importance of working together on convergence of technologies like ICT, bioinformatics and nanotechnology, the President said: "The rise of India and China is a stabilising factor in today's international economic order since both countries seek a peaceful environment to focus on the paramount task of national development".

In response, President Hu highlighted two themes. The first was the parallel rise of China and India, countries with ancient civilisations, with a combined population of 2.4 billion, and committed to promoting economic development, peace, and stability in the region and the world.

The second theme was the tremendous potential of the strategic and cooperative partnership established last year between the two countries.

Mr. Hu lauded India as "a great country" whose people had created "the splendid ancient civilisation which contributed significantly to human progress." The Chinese people applauded India's "remarkable achievements in economic and social development... sustained and rapid economic growth and... rising international standing."

Quoting Rabindranath Tagore's description of China and India as "old and close brothers," the Chinese leader commended the great progress made in bilateral relations in recent years. "In the new century," he noted, "our bilateral ties have maintained encouraging momentum of all-round growth." China and India, "as major developing countries, both face historic opportunities of development and revitalisation."