The three-day visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India began on a positive note here on Wednesday with Mr. Xi and Prime Minister Narendra Modi sharing a rare bonhomie and the two countries signing two agreements and one memorandum of understanding.
The strong note of symbolism, ceremony and camaraderie between the two leaders set the stage for substantive talks to be held in New Delhi on Thursday.
Mr. Xi is the first Chinese President to visit India in eight years.
As the stakes are high for both, Mr. Modi, in a special gesture, travelled to Ahmedabad to welcome the Chinese leader.
After meeting Mr. Xi for a brief one-on-one interaction in a hotel and the signing of the agreements, it was time for some leisure. The visit to the Sabarmati Ashram marked a defining moment as Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi sat on the floor and spun the charkha. Mr. Xi gifted a charkha, a book and other items in a sealed box to the ashram.
In the evening on the Sabarmati riverfront, Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi witnessed a cultural programme by dance troupes from Gujarat.
The high point of the evening was an elaborate dinner of exclusive Gujarati vegetarian dishes Mr. Modi hosted for Mr. Xi, his wife, Peng Liyuan, and a delegation of 22 members.
Key aspects of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India
* 20 MoUs and agreements are expected to be signed by the two countries on issues related to infrastructure development, cultural ties among others during Mr. Xi's visit. >Read more
* Beijing is expected to push its new-generation APC1000 nuclear reactors. The two leaders are expected to discuss the possibility of a civil nuclear cooperation agreement. >Read more
* Is the Gujarat model, the way forward for India-China ties? Gujarat has been among the biggest destinations for Chinese investment in India, with Beijing looking to take forward plans to set up industrial parks in India, in part based on its experience in Gujarat. Chief amongst the agreements will be the setting up of two ‘industrial cities’ near Gandhinagar and Pune on the lines of the Chinese manufacturing hub Shenzen. >Read more
* India has warmed up to the idea of the BCIM (Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar) corridor. Long promoted by China, BCIM is intended to link Kunming to Kolkata, Mandalay (Myanmar), Dhaka and Chittagong. It is intended to advance multi-modal connectivity, harness economic complementarities, promote investment and trade, and facilitate people-to-people contacts. >Read more
* China has amplified the pitch on its vision of the Maritime Silk Road (MSR) amid the repositioning of American forces in the Asia-Pacific and an emerging trade deal between Washington and its traditional regional allies. >Read more
* Over $10 billion investment is expected from China during Mr. Xi’s visit. Currently, Chinese investment in India stands at $400 million. President Xi Jinping, in his exclusive article in The Hindu, talks about ‘combining the world’s factory and the world’s back office to produce the most competitive production base’. >Read more
* 'Progress has been made in the negotiations on the boundary question, and the two sides have worked together to maintain peace in the border area,' wrote the Chinese Premier in connection with the decades-old border issues that have marred Sino-Indo ties for long. >Read more
* President Xi’s visit may provide Narendra Modi a rare chance to seize the moment by stating India’s political intent on solving the border row between the two countries, beginning with measurable steps to clarify the Line of Actual Control, and to root out border incidents. >Read Editorial
* With India and China deciding to mark 2014 as a “year of friendly exchanges”, talks on the issue of stapled visas might figure in the meeting. >Read more