Tamil Nadu rolled out the red carpet for Chinese President Xi Jinping on his arrival at the Chennai airport on Friday.
The gates of the airport sported a celebratory look, decorated with flowers and plantain trees . Murals adorned the walls, the Indian and Chinese flags were flying high, and a majestic arch bearing greetings in Mandarin was erected to welcome Mr. Xi.
At 1.45 p.m., a Boeing 747 Air China aircraft landed at the airport, and as Mr. Xi stepped out, he was welcomed by Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam. A couple of senior bureaucrats, including Chief Secretary K. Shanmugam, were also present.
By this time, the music and dance had begun. As the Chinese President walked the red carpet, Tamil Nadu’s traditional art forms, from Mayilattam, Bharatanatyam and Parai to nagaswaram music, were showcased by different groups of performers, right on the tarmac. Mr. Xi took time to watch each of them and waved at the performers, dressed in red and green. A few Chinese flags flew in the backdrop. But though there were priests from the Kapaleeswarar temple waiting with poornakumbam, the security staff rushed Mr. Xi to his car, much to the disappointment of the priests.
He zipped past in Hongqi cars, being greeted on the way out by hordes of schoolchildren, who waited in the heat to catch a glimpse of him. In less than five minutes, the convoy of Mr. Xi reached the ITC Grand Chola, where he stayed for the night to continue his informal talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday.
Earlier, Mr. Modi arrived at the airport around 11.10 a.m. He was also received by the Governor, the CM and his deputy.
After a brief halt, he left by helicopter to Thiruvidanthai, where a helipad was set up last year during the defence expo. From there, he took the road to Taj Fisherman’s Cove, where he stayed for the night.
The hashtag #GobackModi was trending yet again on Twitter on Friday, even as Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi arrived for a two-day informal summit at Mamallapuram. The hashtag drew nearly 2.2 lakh tweets in just a day, according to Trendsmap.
Twitterati took to the social media platform and got #GobackModi trending in both English and Mandarin.
For a large part of the morning, this was the top-trending hashtag in the country, even as the BJP and Mr. Modi’s supporters tried to fight it off with #TNWelcomesModi.