Ratan Tata, the doyen of Indian industry, was on Thursday inducted as a member of the Board of Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), a rare distinction for an Indian in the Chinese government-backed influential body.
"This is the first time a senior Indian business leader was accorded the distinction," K Nagraj Naidu, India's Consul General in Guangzhou, who is attending the BFA being held at held Boao-a picturesque coastal town in south China's Hainan province told PTI.
It is also a recognition for Tatas as a global conglomerate, he said.
The 15-member Board of BFA included former Japanese prime minister Yasuo Fukuda, former Malaysian prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badwai, former Singapore prime minister Goh Chok Tong and former prime minister of France Jean-Pierre Raffarin besides former US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
BFA was formed in 2001 on the lines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Every year top world's political and business leaders gather at Boao to brain storm on global political and economic issues.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce (FICCI ) is an ordinary member of the forum.
Tata, 76, attended the opening meeting of this year's BFA today and met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who inaugurated the meeting attended by heads of governments of several countries including, Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Australian Premier Tony Abbott.
In his interaction with the media at BFA yesterday, Tata said Indian businesses have failed to grasp many opportunities offered by the vast Chinese market.
He said Chinese and Indian markets had plenty of potential for cooperation.
Tata is the most successful Indian business group in China. TCS has also done well by making forays into the local Chinese IT market. Range Rover SUV manufactured by TATA-owned Jaguar Land Rover is a big hit in China.
Ratan Tata's nomination to the board of the BFA is seen as part of China's efforts to push closer ties with India.
China looks to firm up policies to improve its investment and trade ties with India once a new government takes office after the general elections. The Indian delegation at this year's BFA was headed by Arun Maira, Member of the Planning Commission.
Indian Ambassador to China, Ashok K Kantha, FICCI President Sidharth Birla and several other industrialists attended the meeting.
Though founded in 2001, India began attending the BFA from 2010 by sending ministerial delegations.
Naidu said as a part of the high-level leadership exchanges in the 'India-China Year of Friendly Exchanges', a number of top Chinese officials had visited India including Peng Qinghuahe, the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) Secretary of Guangxi, interacted with number of top Indian leaders inclding, Vice President M H Ansari.
Li Jiheng, Governor of Yunnan Province, the host of the China South Asia Expo also visited India and met External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
Mayor of Kunming city, Li Wenrong is due to visit India shortly.