Visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao today virtually launched a charm offensive as he quoted the Upanishads, praised Mahatma Gandhi saying he has always lived in his heart and fondly remembered students calling him "grandpa" during his visit to a school here.
During his 30-minute address at the Indian Council of World Affairs, Wen also drew parallels between Chinese calligraphy and Yoga, and noted the influence of Buddhism on Chinese culture.
Recalling his visit to the Tagore International School last evening, the 68-year-old Chinese leader said he felt as if he was in his country when he was addressed as 'Grandpa Wen'. "Children back home call me 'Grandpa Wen'," he said.
"The Upanishad says 'the truth is above all and is the common foundation of conception'," the Chinese premier said as he went on the describe his "friendship" with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"Prime Minister Singh and I are old friends. We have had long discussions on a dozen of occasions and forged a sincere friendship," he said. The Chinese leader said he could see Mahatma Gandhi's unyielding image and clear eyes as he laid a wreath at the Raj Ghat memorial.
"For peace and justice, Mahatma Gandhi travelled from one village to another with firm steps, knowing no fatigue. He was intrepid, and so much so that no force or individual could make him stop," he said. "This great man, a man of love and integrity, has always lived in my heart," Wen said.
Paying tributes to Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore, he said the sage poet forged a deep friendship with China's literary giants Lu Xun, Liang Qichao and Xu Zhimo. Drawing similarities between Yoga and calligraphy, Wen said while Yogic postures signify the union of soul and physical strength, the Chinese art demonstrated the strength of hand and that of the mind.
Noting that numerous ties have linked China and India for thousands of years, Wen said Buddhism from India has enriched the Chinese culture.