New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee will embark on a four-day visit to China on May 24, it was officially announced on Thursday.
This will be the first presidential visit from India to China in six years since the visit of then president Pratibha Patil in May 2010.
“The visit will begin on May 24 in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, which is the only Chinese province with an economy of over $1 trillion,” Pradeep Rawat, joint secretary (East Asia) at the ministry of external affairs, said at a media briefing here.
Mukherjee will become the first Indian president to visit Guangzhou.
“It further highlights the two sides’ commitment to make closer developmental partnership as a cornerstone of bilateral relationship,” Rawat said.
During the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India in September 2014, the bilateral relationship was upgraded to a closer developmental partnership.
According to Rawat, Mukherjee’s programme in Guangzhou “will highlight business and cultural linkages which provide durable foundation for growth and development of bilateral ties”.
Mukherjee will addressing a business gathering in Guangzhou and also interact with the Indian community there.
After completing the Guangzhou leg of the tour, the president will arrive in Beijing on May 25 evening were he will meet the top leadership of China.
“Senior dignitaries from China will attend various cultural and educational functions being organised during the visit,” Rawat said, adding that a key highlight of the the visit to Beijing would be a round table of vice-chancellors and presidents of universities of India and China.
Stating that this was the first time that such a round table was being organised as part of a state visit to China, he said that a number of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in the academic field were proposed to be signed between the academic institutions of the two countries.
“Given the young population of India and zeal for knowledge of Indian and Chinese people, these academic linkages will be mutually beneficial,” the joint secretary said.
In Beijing, Mukherjee will meet with Friends of India, a group of cultural and academic personalities and also speak to students of Peking University.
“Leadership of the two countries agree that it is the key relationship for achieving the shared vision of an Asian century,” Rawat said.
“The whole range of bilateral issues covering political, economic, people-to-people domain will be discussed.”
Stating that as two major powers of the world the India-China relationship transcended bilateral dimensions, he said that the discussions would also cover regional and global issues of significance.
Venu Rajamony, press secretary to the president, said that the Chinese would be laying out the red carpet for Mukherjee.
“In Guangzhou, he will be meeting both the governor of Guangdong province and the party secretary (of Communist Part of China) of Guangdong province,” Rajamony said, adding that the party secretary would also be hosting a lunch in honour of Mukherjee.
In Beijing, he will meet President Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang among other leaders.
Mukherjee will be accompanied by Minister of State for Textiles Santosh Kumar Gangwar, Rajya Sabha member from the BJP Bhushan Lal Jangde, Lok Sabha member from the Congress K.C. Venugopal, Lok Sabha member from BJP Sudhir Gupta and Lok Sabha member from the BJP Ranjanben Dhananjay Bhatt.
The president will also be taking with him the directors of IIT-Delhi, IIT-Bhubaneswar, IIM-Calcutta, VNIT Nagpur and NIT Agartala and the vice-chancellors of the Central University of Gujarat and the Central University of Jammu.
“This is part of the special focus that he (Mukherjee) gives to improving the quality of higher education in the country in his capacity as visitor to 114 institutes of higher learning within the country,” Rajamony said.