Beijing lucky for Indian athletes, says Chinese minister ((Lead, superseding earlier story)

September 9th, 2008 - 9:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Abhinav BindraNew Delhi, Sep 9 (IANS) “Beijing is a lucky place for Indian athletes” - is what Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told Abhinav Bindra, who got the only individual gold India has won in the Olympics so far, when he met the ace shooter Monday night. Addressing a gathering of diplomats, experts and journalists at Hotel Hyatt Regency here Tuesday, the Chinese minister recalled telling Bindra, “There are basketfuls of gold medals waiting for Indians.”

Yang met Bindra at a dinner hosted by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee Monday night.

“Maybe Indian friends can help China to play better cricket,” the dapper foreign minister said Tuesday, his wit providing a welcome relief from a serious speech mapping out a picture of India-China relations in the 21st century.

In a charm offensive meant to win over Indians upset by China’s perceived spoilsport role in the NSG, Yang lauded India for winning one gold and three bronzes in the Beijing Olympics.

But going by the hush that fell in the audience, one felt that this was a compliment he could have spared Indians. “It looked like he was rubbing it in about our dismal performance in sports. It was highly patronizing,” said a diplomat, who did not wish to be named.

In a speech bristling with gravitas, wit and post-Olympic poise, Yang also held the Beijing Olympics as an exemplar for the rest of the developing world.

If China can do it so can India and so can the rest of the developing world, he said.

The Beijing Olympics “brought glory not only for China, but also for India and the developing world”, he said while adding he was impressed by all the hustle-bustle in India surrounding the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

Yang hailed India as “a rising power” that together with a rising China holds the key to the shape of the world in the days to come.

Saying that there is no competition between New Delhi and Beijing, he lauded India’s IT prowess and said this is one area in which China can learn from India.

He, however, did not miss a chance to flaunt China’s Olympic-size achievements as he waxed eloquent about the nearly 10 percent annual growth of the Chinese economy over the last three decades and the six-fold increase in per capita income.

Yang, who wrapped up his three-day visit to India Tuesday, also made a pitch for expanding people-to-people contacts and cultural relations in fields ranging from education and health to sports and media.

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