Some of the events planned by India and China to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties starting today will be hit by the virus outbreak but the cooperation between the dragon and the elephant will emerge stronger and their relationship can scale new heights after the COVID-19 pandemic, a senior Chinese official said.

On April 1, 1950, India became the first non-Communist country in Asia to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“First of all, Congratulations! Because today marks the 70th anniversary of the bilateral diplomatic ties between China and India,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a media briefing in Beijing.

“The two Heads of State exchanged the congratulatory messages,” Hua said while responding to a question.

Both the counties have finalised an ambitious 70 celebratory activities, a host of cultural, religious and trade promotion activities round the year besides military exchanges to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations.

But all such event may not take place in the near future as both the countries were going through most difficult times dealing with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 42,000 people worldwide.

While China made gradual efforts to open up as the coronavirus cases abated, India is currently under a 21-day nationwide lockdown to control the spread of the virus.

The two countries together finalised 70 events to celebrate the event in line with the understanding reached by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping during their 2nd Informal Summit at Mamallapuram on October 11-12 last year.

“I guess some of them (events) will be affected by the pandemic but I believe, our exchanges and cooperation will only emerge stronger after the pandemic and we also hope we can elevate our relationships and scale new heights,” she said.

“In Chennai, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to take the opportunity of the 70th anniversary of our diplomatic ties to hold 70 separate celebrating activities, which will deepen the bilateral exchange in our legislature, business, academics and so on,” Hua said.

State-run Xinhua news agency carried a commentary on the 70 years of establishment of Sino-India diplomatic ties, saying “7 decades on, China-India ties face ample chances for new development.”

“In the hard battle against the ravaging coronavirus epidemic, Beijing and New Delhi have offered each other staunch support and timely help,” it said.

“This vividly reflects the two countries” growing partnership as they mark on Wednesday the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relationship”, it said.

“Over the past seven decades, the dragon and the elephant have reached a growing consensus, that is, the only right choice for their bilateral ties is to dance together,” it said.

“Such an expanding consensus is built on the ever-deepening political mutual trust and increasingly frequent high-level exchanges between the two countries,” it said.

Referring to two informal meetings between PM Modi and President Xi during the last two years and their numerous meetings on the sidelines of BRICS, the SCO and other multilateral platforms, the commentary said, “practical cooperation between the two sides has also been making new strides”.

“While promoting their mutually beneficial cooperation, it is also imperative for the two countries to implement the important consensus reached between President Xi and PM Modi at their second informal meeting in the Indian city of Chennai to properly manage their differences on border issues and maintain peace and tranquility in the region,” it said.

“China and India are key trading partners to each other. In 2019, bilateral trade reached more than USD 90.1 billion up by 1.6 per cent year-on-year, according to China’s General Administration of Customs,” it said.

The two sides have also seen robust exchanges and cooperation in hi-tech and cultural sectors.

Chinese tech firm Xiaomi’s Redmi smartphone series have topped India’s sales ranking. Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce company, offered technological know-how and financial support for India to develop its largest mobile payment platform Paytm. For their part, Indian films like “3 Idiots” and “Dangal” have made impressive box office takings in China, it said.

“As the two economies are highly complementary, China’s development means ample growth opportunities for India, and vise-versa. Thus, huge potential is waiting for both sides to tap in various areas such as finance, investment, manufacturing and infrastructure,” it said.

China is now the world’s second largest economy, and India has been one of the fastest growing emerging market economies, it said, adding that their cooperation transcends bilateral dimensions and bears a regional and global significance.

“The two countries should also jointly oppose trade protectionism, and advocate multilateralism by bolstering international cooperation via such platforms as the Group of 20, BRICS and the SCO,”, it said.

“China and India are the only two countries in the world with more than 1 billion people each. As long as one third of the global population can join hands, they can yield more benefits for not only themselves but also the wider world. The ongoing (coronavirus) epidemic fight offers a chance to do exactly that,” it added.

Meanwhile, China last week thanked India for its support in the fight against COVID-19 and offered to help contain the Coronavirus pandemic in the country.

In a statement issued by the spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, Counselor Ji Rong said, “Chinese enterprises have started to make donations to India. We stand ready to provide further support and assistance to the best of our capability in light of the needs of the Indian side.”

China and India, she said, have maintained communication and cooperation and lent support to each other in coping with the epidemic through difficult times.

Over 3,200 people have died and around 81,000 people have been infected by COVID-19 in China so far. India sent about 15 tonnes of medical assistance comprising masks, gloves and other emergency medical equipment to the Coronavirus-hit Wuhan city.

Earlier in February, in a letter written to the Chinese President, PM Modi had expressed solidarity with Xi Jinping and the people of the Asian country over the outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 and offered all possible assistance to China in grappling with the situation.

In response, China appreciated India’s concerns saying New Delhi “fully demonstrated” its friendship with Beijing.

(With PTI inputs)