"Whether intentionally or accidentally, directly or indirectly, positively or negatively, they have become important pieces of the China puzzle helping shape and globalise the nation," the state-run 'Global Times', a sister publication of the ruling Communist Party's 'Peoples Daily', said while releasing its list.
The inclusion of Nehru in the list is being seen as significant as some Chinese experts accuse him of triggering the 1962 war. Nehru is listed 19th.
The first Indian Prime Minister and China's then Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai were the architects of the famous 'Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai' slogan of the 1950s. However, Sino-Indian relations soon witnessed a downturn in 1962 when the two Asian giants clashed in a brief but bloody war.
Tagore is listed 11th and is the only poet figuring in the list. Tagore, whose works have been widely translated in Chinese, has been chosen among the foreign literary figures.
Interestingly, among the 60 people in the list, there is only one woman, Margaret Thatcher, the 'Iron Lady' of Great Britain.
The list, published ahead of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic on October 1, says that 70 per cent of the finalists were selected by Internet users and 30 per cent were recommended by academics from the prestigious think-tank, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The newspaper balanced the results from Internet users and experts to finalise the top 60.
While erstwhile Soviet leaders like Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev and Ivan Arkhipov cast a heavy influence on the Chinese in the 1950s and 1960s, leaders from the Third World like Nehru, Josip Broz Tito and Ho Chi Minh also formed close relationships with China, the paper noted.
Stating that all the foreigners selected had exerted their own profound impact upon modern China, the paper added that "Karl Marx and Lenin enlightened China; Richard Nixon and former Singapore president Lee Kuan Yew promoted China; Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton have impressed generations of Chinese; and Michael Jordan and Bill Gates became idols of young Chinese."
"These foreigners and many others have helped push China forward in areas of politics, economics, culture, science, and even the way Chinese think and live," it said.
In the last six decades, Chinese society transformed from politics-centred to economy-oriented culture. Of the 60, the big political and military names can be found in nearly every important period of history, but the Cold War era contains the most, with Fred Truman and Stalin symbolic of that period.
Lenin, the paper said, got the largest online votes while David Beckham also received many such votes. PTI