NATIONAL

We should follow up on Vajpayee's visit, says Chinese envoy

NEW DELHI SEPT. 26. The Chinese Ambassador to India, Hua Junduo, today stressed the need to "follow up" the June visit of the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, to Beijing and Shanghai.

"We should follow up the outcome of the visit, pushing our relationship further ahead rather than letting go the opportunities," Mr. Hua said at a function here to celebrate the 54th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

Pointing to Mr. Vajpayee's successful visit, Mr. Hua said that it had "achieved mutually beneficial and win-win results". Several agreements had been signed with the two sides reaffirming their commitment to address their differences in a "fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable manner".

Speaking in the presence of the former President, K.R. Narayanan, and the former Governor, Bhishma Narayan Singh, Mr. Hua referred to a Chinese saying ("When drinking water you should not forget those who dug the well'') and spoke of the 1988 visit of Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, to China and the tour of Premier Li Peng to New Delhi.

"...We cannot help remembering Indian friends from various parties and all walks of life... 15 years ago, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi embarked on his historic journey to China... he has left us, but not the cause he was dedicated to."

Indicating that the improvement of the Sino-Indian relationship was backed by a larger Indian consensus, Mr. Hua also referred to the 1993 visit of Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao to China in 1993.

"(The Congress president) Sonia Gandhi travelled to China twice, taking there the amicable sentiment of the Indian people toward the Chinese people. When our ties suffered a temporary setback a few years ago (just before the May 1998 Phokran tests), the former President, K.R. Narayanan, visited China in 2000."

"Our two sides reaffirmed not to regard each other as a threat or adversary and reiterated their adherence to the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence," he said with reference to Mr. Narayanan's visit.

According to him, great changes have taken place during the last 54 years in China. Referring to the 20-odd years of economic reform, Mr. Hua said that due to sustained growth the Chinese people's living standards had risen sharply.

"The new leadership of China is continuing to pursue the independent foreign policy of peace. We shall, as always, actively develop friendly relations with China and other surrounding nations with a view to enhancing mutual understanding and expanding cooperation," he added.

Mr. Narayanan described Mr. Vajpayee's visit as a "historic one" whose reverberations would be heard throughout the next century. It was important for India to acquaint itself with the new Chinese leadership.

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