"India and China should scale high and look far."
Chinese President Jiang Zemin
The sharp cracks of the 21-gun salute, which arbitrarily punctuated the Indian and Chinese national anthems being heartily interpreted by a Chinese military band, set the pigeons fluttering across Tiananmen square. Across the square, outside the Great Hall of the People, Presidents K.R. Narayanan and Jiang Zemin inspected a colourful guard of honour. A few curious passersby added to the crowd of dignitaries, officials, the media and the standard-issue group of rosy-cheeked Chinese children clutching the tricolour. The din and the crowd, however, could do little to mask the palpable personal chemistry between the two men as they walked the red carpet.
President Narayanan is no stranger to China. In 1976, he was sent in as the first ambassador to Beijing after the 1962 border war. And in October 1994, he visited the country as India's vice-president. Which was perhaps why almost every Chinese leader he talked to repeatedly referred to him as "an old friend of China and its...