New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil on Wednesday left for Beijing on a six-day state visit to China during which she will meet President Hu Jintao, inaugurate an Indian-style Buddhist temple and also visit the Shanghai World Expo.
Patil will be joined by a 60-strong business delegation comprising members of all the three apex chambers of India. Besides Beijing, she will visit Shanghai and Luoyang.
During her visit from May 26-May 31, she will meet her Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao in Beijing on Thursday. The two will discuss a range of bilateral, regional and global issues to invigorate relations between the two countries after a period of strain caused by border tensions.
Patil, who will be the first Indian head of state to visit China in 10 years, will meet top Chinese leaders, including National People`s Congress chairman Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao.
Another highlight of her visit will be in Luoyang in Henan province, where she is scheduled to dedicate to the Chinese people an Indian-style Buddhist temple that was inspired by the Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh. The idea of the temple was proposed by the Chinese in 2003 when then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee visited Luoyang where Buddhism is said to have first come from India.
The Indian style temple is adjacent to the White Horse Temple (Baima Si) built in the first century AD in honour of two Indian monks who travelled on horseback, carrying with them religious texts and an image of the Buddha. Patil is also scheduled to visit the White Horse Temple.
At the Shanghai World Expo, a six-month event that kicked off April 30, Patil will visit the India pavilion that has become a hot spot with 25,000 visitors every day thronging the stalls of handicrafts and cuisine, and jiving on Bollywood songs and dance.
In Shanghai, the President will also inaugurate the statue of Nobel Laureaute Rabindranath Tagore who visited the city in 1924.
The President`s visit comes at a time when China has become India`s largest trading partner. Bilateral trade between the two countries grew 34 percent in 2008 to touch USD 51.8 billion, though in 2009 it slipped to USD 43.27 billion.
During her visit, she will be accompanied by Minister of Food Processing Industries Subodh Kant Sahay, MPs Jayanti Natarajan, Ramdas Agarwal and former Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, besides over 55 business executives.