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Rahul Gandhi follows own agenda during first China visit

October 26, 2007 19:30 IST

Rahul Gandhi, being projected as the future leader of the Congress Party, is having a busy schedule of his own while in Beijing on his first tour of the booming Communist nation.

Rahul, accompanying party president and his mother Sonia, had a separate meeting in Beijing on Friday with the president of the All China Youth Federation Yang Yue, exchanging views on youth work in China and other issues of common interest.

Significantly, Yang is holding the ACYF position, a post previously held by current Chinese President and general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China Hu Jintao.

Soon after his arrival on Thursday, Rahul had met Xu Zhihong, president of Peking University, one of the prestigious higher educational institutions in China.

Rahul and Xu exchanged ideas on higher education and the general education scenario in both nations, sources said.

Looking smart in a dark-coloured lounge suit, the 37-year-old Nehru family scion joined his mother when she met the top Chinese leadership, including President Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao, both of whom were re-elected to the powerful politburo Standing Committee of the CPC and are expected to continue in their present government positions till 2012.

Rahul was also present when Sonia met the Minister of the International Department of the CPC Wang Jiarui, exchanging views on ways to promote party-to-party relations between the Congress and the CPC, the ruling party in China since the People's Republic was founded in 1949.

At the meetings, the Chinese leaders praised late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi for his contributions to the promotion of Sino-India relations when he made a ground-breaking visitto China in 1988.

Describing the late Indian leader as an "outstanding statesman," the Chinese premier said that Rajiv had made contributions not only to India, but also to the strengthening of Sino-India relations.

The ongoing visit to China will provide an opportunity to Rahul to personally witness the great leap forward China has made after its reform and opening up 29 years ago.

It will also give the Chinese leadership an opportunity to size-up the young Indian leader, touted as the next generation leader of the Congress party, sources said.

The China trip is also expected to give Rahul, who is now being groomed to assume higher responsibilities, an international profile.

He had earlier accompanied Sonia during her visit to the US after which he was appointed the party general secretary.

Anil K Joseph in Beijing
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