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[NEW DELHI] Plans to increase scientific cooperation between China and India received a boost during Chinese premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India this week.

Wen said science and technology could be an effective bridge between the two countries, adding that steps should be taken to promote collaboration between research institutions in the two countries.

Speaking to a gathering at Bangalore-based Tata Consultancy Services on 10 April, Wen stressed that cooperation between China and India could usher in "the Asian century in information technology".

A combination of China's expertise in hardware and India's in software could help them lead the world, said Wen, echoing comments made by Indian science minister Kapil Sibal during his visit to China last November (see China and India set to increase scientific cooperation).

An Indian IT delegation is expected to visit China later this year to explore areas of cooperation.

Following Wen's visit to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) headquarters in Bangalore, the two countries also plan to increase their collaboration in applications of space technology.

In 2001, ISRO and China's National Space Agency agreed to cooperate in this field, especially by applying remote sensing technology to aspects of the countries' development such as agriculture and environmental management.

The two countries both have a large landmass with abundant natural resources and many remote rural areas, which are difficult to monitor on the ground.

"Exchange of ideas and experiences in application of remote sensing will benefit both countries," an ISRO spokesperson told SciDev.Net.

The Chinese delegation accompanying Wen also expressed interest in Indian microchip technology, genomics, biological sciences, material sciences, and optical and radio astronomy. 

There were wide-ranging, open-ended discussions on possible areas for cooperation, according to Goverdhan Mehta, director of the Indian Institute of Science.

Mehta points out that although exchanges of students between China and India take place, it is only on a small scale. Given the two countries' resurgent economies, science cooperation could increase, he says.

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