China on Wednesday called for strengthening regional cooperation with India and welcomed New Delhi's recent induction in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) - the forum that promotes dialogue between the two continents.
Keen to dispel the impression of any regional rivalry between the two emerging Asian powers, Chinese President Hu Jintao came out unambiguously in support of India's participation in the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and the East Asia Summit last year.
In the first statement by a Chinese leader on the issue, Hu also welcomed New Delhi's induction into the ASEM, thus ending speculation about Beijing's ambivalence about New Delhi's entry into this trans-continental grouping that acts a bridge between Asia and the 25-nation European Union.
"In regional affairs, we should strengthen regional and sub-regional cooperation and work together to build a harmonious Asia," Hu, who is here on a four-day visit, said at the Vigyan Bhavan convention centre.
"China supports India's participation in the SCO and the East Asia Summit and welcomes India becoming a new member of the Asia-Europe Meeting," Hu stressed.
In September this year, the ASEM invited India, Pakistan, Mongolia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat to join the 38-member forum.
Before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh participated at the first East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur last year, there were reports that Beijing did not favour India's participation.
The second East Asia Summit is to be held in the Philippines next month.