Tuesday, February 13, 2007


RIGHT NOTE: Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing strikes a holy bell during the inauguration of the Xuanzang (Hieun Tsang) Memorial Hall in Nalanda on Monday.

PATNA: The inauguration of a renovated Xuanzang (Hieun Tsang) Memorial Hall in Nalanda on Monday provided an opportunity for Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing to underline his country's keenness to have closer ties with India.

Leading a 110-member delegation at the ceremony, he underlined the need for the two countries to work together. "Let us begin from this beautiful example."

The Chinese Foreign Minister arrived here from Beijing on Sunday and drove to Nalanda, taking the same path taken by the 7 A.D. traveller from China to Nalanda University as a student and returned after a stint as a teacher. The Hall was dedicated to him almost about five decades ago. What remained incomplete had been redone as an architectural marvel.

Chinese monks recited prayers, even as Mr. Li, in the company of Tourism Minister Ambika Soni, Bihar Governor R.S. Gavai, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Chairman of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations Karan Singh, formalised the inauguration and threw the hall open for public viewing. Relics brought from China were put on display.

Mr. Li delved on the age-old cultural ties between the two countries and the joint initiative in the 1950s and went on to commit himself to making the joint declaration of marking 2007 as India-China friendship through tourism a success.

Ms. Soni spoke of developing a Buddhist circuit and more cultural exchanges.

Mr. Kumar said the day's function would help restore the pride of the proposed Nalanda University. He hoped that China would contribute, along with Singapore and Japan, for setting up a truly international study centre with little or no interference from either the Centre or the State Government. He wanted the nodal agency preparing the blueprint to involve the local people in setting up and running the university.

PTI reports from Nalanda:

Ye Xiaowen, Minister and administrator for religious affairs of China, recalled President Hu Jintao's words, ``the Chinese and Indian people have created splendid cultures and made indelible contribution to human progress. In the past, our two people went through similar experiences in almost all historical periods. The destiny of our countries and people are closely bonded together''.


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