The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi date for Beijing top gun

New Delhi, Nov. 12: The fourth person in China’s power hierarchy will visit India later this month, becoming the first of the country’s “fourth generation” leaders to call on Delhi.

Jia Qing Lin is the chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee, the equivalent of our Rajya Sabha. He will be here from November 23 to 27.

Jia’s visit — coming as it would after education minister Zhou Ji’s and Development Bank governor Chen Yuan’s — will further boost the current upswing in ties between the two neighbours.

Zhou is already here to attend the Unesco-sponsored Education for All conference in Delhi, during which he is scheduled to meet Indian leaders and senior officials.

Chen, the chief of one of China’s three banks that lend long-term loans for infrastructure development, is also here, holding wide discussions with his counterparts in the banking sector and officials in the finance ministry.

All these visits indicate a deepening of bilateral ties at various levels — both among political leaders and senior administrative officials.

Though Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who is also the Rajya Sabha chairman, will be Jia’s host, the Chinese leader will also get to meet the Prime Minister, his deputy and the foreign minister, among others, sources said.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee has already met Chinese President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, but neither has so far come to India.

So the visit of Jia is significant as he is considered one of the “fourth generation” of Chinese leaders such as Hu and Wen and is also known to be a close ally of China’s military commission chairman Jiang Zemin, the former President.

The visit itself signifies that Beijing attaches more importance to India now.

China watchers emphasise that since Hu became President, there has been a distinct change in Beijing’s attitude towards Delhi and relations between the two countries have improved considerably.

During discussions with Jia, the Indian leadership will get the opportunity to know the policies and areas of importance the new generation of leaders in Beijing is emphasising.

Delhi will also get to assess the current state of Islamabad’s ties with Beijing as Jia’s visit will be coming within weeks of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s China tour.

Moreover, India will get the chance to evaluate the possible role the Chinese leadership wishes to play in lowering the temperature in South Asia.

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