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Rashtrapati Bhavan, New Delhi , 27th February, 2012


My dear young friends from China and other distinguished members of the Chinese delegation, on behalf of the people and the Government of India, I extend to you all a very warm welcome.

It was last year that India and China celebrated the "Year of Exchange" and agreed to invite 500 young representatives from each other's country. Young Indians visited China in September 2011, and I am very happy to meet all of you in Delhi today.

Youth are the future of the world. It is a country which recognises the potential of the youth that can bring about positive change not only to itself, but also to the world. In India as well as in China, the youth comprise a large proportion of the population. This demographic dividend has contributed immensely to the efforts that our countries are putting, towards achieving developmental aspirations. I am of the view, that the more that we do towards channelizing the energy of our youth, the faster would be our growth.

I fondly remember my visit to China in May 2010, the year that marked the 60th Anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. I had extensive and constructive discussions with the leadership of China, wherein we affirmed our commitment to strengthen our bilateral ties. I particularly recall my visit to the White Horse Temple complex in Luoyang, which being the resting place of two great cultural ambassadors from India, the monk-scholars Kashyapamatanga and Dharmaratna, is a reminder of how our civilizations enriched each other. I dedicated the newly constructed Indian-style Buddhist Temple there to friendship between the people of India, and the people of China.

Both our countries are millennia old civilizations, with a very long history of interaction among our people from all walks of life. In today's contemporary world, it is very important that young minds from both countries familiarise themselves with our shared history and our commonalities, and with our opportunities and challenges in this modern world. I compliment the vision of the leaders of both our countries for emphasising the importance of youth exchanges.

China's rapid economic growth over the last three decades has been spectacular and riveting. It is now the second largest economy in the world with a GDP of approximately 6 trillion US Dollars. An important reason for China's success is that its youth are focused on improving their living standards, and are driven by the quest for a more prosperous future.

In India, we have been able to maintain a high growth rate despite the current global economic crisis. The contribution of Indian youth is evident all around us. The success of India in the Information Technology sector is largely because of the dedicated efforts of Indian youth. Our youth are excelling in their endeavours.

The 21st Century is the Asian Century. India and China as two major Asian countries will play a major role in the realization of this dream. The content, scope and depth of the India-China relationship will to a large extent define the Asian Century. Our two countries are undoubtedly playing an important global role, but the synergy emanating from our partnership, can make a huge difference in today's world and how we look at the future.

I am of the view that now what is required ,is to create a better understanding between the peoples of our two countries; and this is where our youth can play a major role. The youth of the two countries should travel to the different places in each other's countries, understand each other's culture and traditions, share with each other, their ideas and experiences, identify areas of cooperation, and together act on these areas to create such a synergy.

During your stay in India you will visit different places and interact with different people and this, I am sure, will enrich your experience. I encourage you to take the opportunity to make new friends in India. You have the future responsibility of further strengthening India-China relations, and I am sure that you will carry out this responsibility with utmost care and enthusiasm.

I wish you a pleasurable stay in India, and hope that you carry back home great memories of your time spent here.

Thank you.

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