A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government took office, China today expressed keen interest to establish high-level contacts with India's new leadership at the earliest to step up engagement in political, trade and economic areas.
"China attaches high importance to relations with India and is ready to work with the new Indian government to maintain high-level contacts," China's influential State Councillor Yang Jiechi told India's Ambassador Ashok K Kantha during a meeting here.
China was reportedly keen that a top Indian leader attends the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of Panchasheel, the five principles enunciated jointly by former prime minster Jawaharlal Nehru and his then Chinese counterpart Zhou Enlai.
The event in which leaders of China, India and Myanmar are expected to participate is slated to be held in China on June 28. Also the Chinese President Xi Jinping who took over last year has expressed interest to visit India after the swearing-in of the new government.
Last year, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made New Delhi his first stop abroad after he took over the high office to convey the importance China's leadership attached to improving relations with India. Modi's first trip abroad will be keenly watched here.
Yesterday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang congratulated Modi after he was sworn-in.
China views India as a "natural cooperative partner" and it is ready to work with the new Narendra Modi-led government to take their strategic cooperative partnership to a "new level", Li said.
He is expected to speak to Modi over phone in the next few days as efforts are underway to find a mutually convenient time, officials said.
During his meeting with Kantha, Yang -- who is also the Special Representative for Sino-Indian border dispute and China's pointsman of India -- expressed Beijing's interest to strengthen cooperation and communication in all areas.
"China would like to keep the good momentum in developing bilateral ties, and contribute to the peace and progress of Asia and the world," Yang was quoted by China's official news agency Xinhua as saying.
Yang also requested Kantha to convey the felicitations of the Chinese leadership to the new Indian government led by Modi, the Indian Embassy said in a statement.
He underlined the readiness of the Chinese government to work closely with the Indian government to enhance the strategic and cooperative partnership and take it to a higher level, the statement said.
Kantha assured Yang that the Indian side fully shared the desire to strengthen the strategic partnership.
Chinese leadership has established political contacts with Modi during his long years as Chief Minister of Gujarat and much of USD 900 million Chinese investments in India were made in Gujarat.
This is Kantha's second meeting with top Chinese officials. On May 23, Kantha met Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who besides greeting Modi also sent a special message of goodwill on behalf of the Chinese government.
In Chinese hierarchy, Yang is placed higher than the Foreign Minister. During the meeting, Yang expressed Beijing's interest in engaging with India in multiple areas including enhancing trade, which is stagnated around USD 66 billion with over USD 35 billion deficit for India, according to officials.
China was waiting for the new government to take over to decide on establishing its first industrial park in India to balance to address India's concerns over trade deficit.
Several Indian states already made presentations, offering a number facilities including land for the park. India also sought China's help in modernising railways to lay high speed tracks.