Chinese PM arrives in India, $20 bn deals on cards

Chinese PM arrives in India, $20 bn deals on cards

The special aircraft carrying the Chinese leader, who is accompanied by around 400 top businesspersons, touched down here Wednesday afternoon. Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Jyotiraditya Scindia and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao warmly welcomed Wen on his second visit to India in the past five years.

Soon after his arrival, Wen headed to Tagore International School, where he will informally interact with schoolchildren and tell them about Chinese culture, tai-chi and calligraphy.

Wen arrives at a critical time when bilateral relations have come under strain over a slew of issues like China issuing stapled visas for residents of Jammu and Kashmir, its assertive posturing over Arunachal Pradesh, and accelerated investment by China in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to take up these issues with Wen when they meet over dinner at his official residence in the evening. 

The two leaders, who have met several times on the sidelines of multilateral summits, are expected to spend half an hour one-on-one discussing the sensitive issues before they join other guests for the dinner.

Wen will be accorded a ceremonial reception at Rashtrapati Bhavan Thursday morning before he sits down for delegation-level talks with Manmohan Singh. Trade-related issues, including ways to address $19.2 billion deficit, will figure prominently in the discussions.

India will pitch for greater access for Indian goods in the Chinese market as well as greater Chinese investment, specially in the infrastructure sector, into India.  

The two leaders are also expected to discuss a host of global issues, including the UN reforms, the global financial crisis, climate change and global terrorism. 

Business deals worth $20 billion and some 45-odd banking and investment memorandums of understanding (MoUs) between Indian and Chinese banks and firms are likely to be signed during the visit.

The two sides are also set to launch a CEOs forum that will  signal their resolve to expand bilateral trade, which is close to $60 billion, despite the ongoing efforts to resolve outstanding issues.

"China-India relations are significant. The leaders of both nations agree that the world has sufficient space for the two emerging economies to grow," Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Hu Zhengyue said Monday.

Hu hoped that Wen's visit would further boost political mutual trust and understanding while cementing bilateral cooperation in trade and economy.

Wen will head to Pakistan after wrapping up his three-day visit Friday morning. 

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