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China heads to Calcutta

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Delhi
  • Published 21.11.06
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New Delhi, Nov. 21: With India and China setting up an ambitious target of doubling their trade in the next four years, the two sides today decided to open more consulates in each other’s country to handle the rush of business travel.

India will set up a consulate in Ghuangzhou and China in Calcutta. China already has a consulate in Mumbai.

Officials said before settling for Calcutta, China had explored the possibility of opening a new consulate in either Bangalore or Hyderabad. However, it was decided that south India would be handled by the Mumbai consulate while the one in Calcutta would help in attracting people from the east.

The protocol on setting up new consulates was signed by foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee and his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing.

The consulate-general will help in expanding business ties as people will not have to travel to Delhi to get a visa to China. The focus will be on trade but China wants more tourists from India.

With the setting up of two new consulates, the neighbours also settled the property dispute regarding the Indian mission in Shanghai.

Delhi had claimed that the building where the Indian consulate in Shanghai was housed was illegally taken over by the Chinese in 1962.

India today signed an agreement to accept the Chinese offer to give a new property in the Pudong area of Shanghai.

In an effort to improve links between eastern India and China, the government today decided to back the Calcutta-Kunming car rally being organised by the Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar forum.

Kunming is a popular tourist destination in Yunnan province and the idea of organising the rally gained ground after the success of the Asean-India car rally in 2004.

Officials said the opening of the new consulates is in line with growing business ties. Trade between the two sides stood at $18billion till November 2006. It grew at a rate of 18 per cent in the first nine months of this year.

The consulate in eastern India will also help the two sides explore the Buddhist link and redevelop Nalanda by establishing an international university.