China honors Yechury, eight other Indians for promoting bilateral friendship

New Delhi, Dec. 15 (ANI): Visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday honored senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury and eight other Indians from various walks of life with the China-India Friendship Award for their efforts in promoting ties and friendship between the two countries.

The event was held at the Taj Palace Hotel in the capital this evening.

Apart from Yechury, the eight others who received the award included: (1) Tan Jung (2) G. Viswanathan (3) G. Panditji (4) Manorajan Mohanty (5) Ms. Thakorabati (6) Bhaskaran (7) Mr. hergill and (8) Pallavi Aiyar.

Speaking on behalf of the awardees, Yechury thanked the Government of China for the honour, and said that relations between the two countries were ancient and time tested.

He said that in past, the travels of well-known Chinese monk scholars Huen Tsang and Fa Hein to India in search of Buddhism and Buddhist teachings had contributed immensely to establishing people-to-people contacts between India and China.

In the modern era, he said, that China's five principles of co-existence and India's Panscheel guided relations and contacts between the two countries.

The Chinese principles were mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity; mutual non-aggression; non-interference in each other's internal affairs; equality and mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence.

Former Chinese Premier Zhou-En-Lai proposed these in 1953 during negotiations with India over Tibet. Premier Zhou and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wrote them into an agreement between China and India on trade and intercourse with regard to Tibet in 1954.

India refers to these principles as Panscheel.

He expressed the hope that Premier Wen's visit would be fruitful and would achieve a new milestone in Sino-Indian ties.

Premier Wen endorsed these sentiments in his speech, saying that it was honor for him to award friends who had made a tremendous contribution to Sino-Indian ties and were continuing do so.

He said bilateral ties between the two countries were long-standing and civilisational in nature.

Well-known Chinese monk scholars Huen Tsang and Fa Hein, he said, traveled long distances to spread Buddhism from India to China, and in the modern era, cooperation between leaders and people of both countries were progressing along expected lines.

He also said that he would be amiss if he did not mention the contributions of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Indian Nation, to building Sino-Indian ties.

He said exchanges between the two countries have expanded into different areas, such as education.

He said his visit to the Tagore International School to interact with students today was an eye-opener of sorts, and reflected the close ties between the people of the two countries. In this context, he recalled the visit of Nobel Laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore to China in 1924.

He said the fact that friendship awards were being given to a cross-section of Indian luminaries was a signal of the range and reach of Sino-Indian ties, adding that China values its relationship with India. He said more and more people needed to be committed to promoting this bilateral relationship to greater heights.

The award includes a plaque and a citation.

Later, talking to ANI TV, Yechury reiterated that both India and China needed to resolve their issues, including the boundary question and the stapled visa controversy in the spirit espoused in Panscheel and China's five principles of co-existence.

He described Premier Wen's visit as significant, and hoped it take bilateral ties forward and to greater heights. By Ashok Dixit (ANI)

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