Beijing: President Hu Jintao, who took a number of initiatives to put Sino-India ties on a fast track during his decade-long stint, retired on Thursday handing over the power to Xi Jinping, who is set to begin his engagement with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by meeting him later in February.
Though the Sino-Indian ties showed signs of normalization under previous Jiang Zemin regime, the pace picked up after Hu took over reins in 2003 in the post-Kargil period with stepped up bilateral engagement at the highest levels.
Hu and his Premier Wen Jiabao visited India twice each and made it a practice to hold talks with Prime Minister Singh on the sidelines of almost all the international meetings. Xi is due to meet Singh on the sidelines of BRICS summit in South Africa to be held on March 26-27.
Indian officials recall over 15 such meetings between Singh and Hu or Wen in the last few years which helped the two countries to tide over thorny issues like China's decision to issue stapled visas to residents of Jammu and Kashmir, which India vehemently opposed.
The issue was sorted out after the intervention from highest Chinese leadership, which paved the way for the two countries to resume defence relations. Both militaries are due to resume joint exercises this year.
While the bilateral trade relations flourished reaching highest point of $ 73.9 billion in 2011, the Chinese leadership also has been openly assuring India that it will address the trade deficit with New Delhi, which amounted to $ 28 billion in 2012 During Hu's era the India-China boundary dispute redress mechanism also gathered momentum with two sides holding 15 rounds of Special Representatives-level talks.