Days before his visit to India, Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday said China and India were natural partners and linking the markets of the two vast countries will provide impetus to worldwide economic growth.
Li said Asia is expected to become the engine of growth for the world economy and for that "our two countries must shake hands and conduct exchanges so that together we can raise the standing of Asia in the world and truly make the Asian economy an important engine for the world economy."
The Premier was addressing a visiting 100-member Indian youth delegation at Zhongnanhai, the heavily guarded central leadership compound of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
"The linkage of our two vast markets will bring tangible benefits to people in both the countries and provide strong impetus for world economic growth and prosperity as well as that in Asia," Li said.
"Many people in the world believe that in the 21st century, the Asia-Pacific, Asia in particular will play a more important role in global economy and politics and that Asia will become an important engine for the world economy," he said.
The Premier recalled his visit to India 27 years ago as the head of a Chinese youth delegation.
"What I saw and felt during that trip, the Taj Mahal and prestigious Indian Universities, research institutes and warmth and hospitality of Indian people left a lasting impact on me... I will make India the first stop of first overseas visit as a Premier of China. I have made this decision not just because India is an important neighbour and one of the populous countries of the world but also because of the seeds of friendship sown during my own youth," Li said.
The Indian youth delegation is being headed by Nita Chowdhury, secretary in the ministry of youth affairs and sports.
Chowdhury had led a 100-member youth delegation to China last year when members of the team had misbehaved with women delegates and made vulgar comments about Chinese women.
The episode came to the fore after the women delegates shared the information with the Indian media based in Beijing.
This year, the Indian embassy which is coordinating the visit, seems to have kept it a low-key affair.
Indian reporters in Beijing, unlike last year, have not been given opportunity to interact with the youth delegates.