Spring is the season of hope with flowers in full blossom. Amid the fresh spring air, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid an official visit to China from May 14 to 16 at the invitation of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. As Chinese Ambassador to India, I was happy to witness the historic visit. The visit, the first by Mr. Modi as Prime Minister, can be characterised by three “supers”.
First, Mr. Modi was accorded a super high-level reception. In the first stop of the visit, Xian, the capital of the home province of President Xi Jinping and a long-time ancient capital of China, a grand Tang Dynasty welcome ceremony was held to escort him into the city, the first-ever such ceremony for a foreign dignitary in more than a decade. Mr. Xi and Mr. Modi spent more than five hours together. In addition to official meetings, the two leaders visited Dacien Temple and Wild Goose Pagoda, built in commemoration of Xuanzang, the eminent Chinese monk who went on a pilgrimage to India for Buddhist scriptures, and watched a traditional cultural performance together.
Mr. Xi held a special banquet for Mr. Modi at the ancient city wall complex. It is particularly worth noting that it is the first time Mr. Xi hosted a foreign leader outside Beijing. And the visit in a way reciprocates Mr. Xi’s visit to Mr. Modi’s home State, Gujarat, last year. There is a special bond between the two places as Xuanzang pursued Buddhist learning in Gujarat and it was from there that he brought Buddhist scriptures back to the then capital of Tang Dynasty, Xian, and translated and taught the scriptures there.
In Beijing, Premier Li held a warm official welcome ceremony and state banquet for Mr. Modi. The two leaders spent almost a whole day together, including official meetings that went much longer than expected, attendance in the first China-India State and Provincial Leaders’ Forum and a Yoga-Taichi demonstration event.
A Cabinet Minister accompanied Mr. Modi throughout his visit in Beijing and Shanghai as representative of the Chinese government, a rare practice in many years. Each leg of the visit was marked by senior-level attendance, including vice-speakers of Parliament, several Cabinet ministers, including the Foreign Minister and the Commerce Minister, governors and mayors. All these special arrangements, senior attendance and high-level reception attest to the importance China attaches to the visit and the friendly relations between our two countries.
Second, the visit yielded super fruitful results. The leaders of our two countries had an in-depth exchange of views on a host of major issues of mutual interest and reached important consensus while not shying away from differences. They took stock of China-India relations and charted the course for its future growth. The visit builds on the consensus to foster a closer development partnership, further enriches the partnership and raised the regional and global significance of China-India cooperation. A joint statement was issued, which noted that India-China bilateral relations are poised to play a defining role in the 21st century in Asia and indeed, globally. Peace and tranquillity on the India-China border was recognised as an important guarantor for the development and continued growth of bilateral relations.
Pending a final resolution of the boundary question, the two sides commit to implementing the existing agreements and continue to make efforts to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas. Mr. Modi pointed out in his speech that “the prospects of the 21st century becoming the Asian century will depend in large measure on what India and China achieve individually and what we do together”. A record number of 45 agreements were signed during the visit, including 24 inter-governmental agreements in outer space, cyberspace, earthquake preparedness, maritime science, smart city, consular establishment, finance, education, exchanges between political parties, States and Provinces, think tanks and so on, and 21 business agreements worth $22 billion.
I remember saying to the Indian press before the visit that the business agreements signed would come to no less than $10 billion. I thought at the time of the interview that I was giving a rather bold number, but it turned out to be too modest. Mr. Modi brought a special gift to the Chinese people by announcing the extension of e-visas to Chinese nationals. All these deliverables are bound to inject fresh dynamism into our relations.
Warm reception Third, the visit was conducted in a super friendly atmosphere. Mr. Modi opened a Chinese Weibo account to say Ni Hao (hello) to the Chinese people and met Chinese journalists before the much-anticipated visit. Throughout the visit, he was warmly received by the Chinese government and people. Everywhere he went, the feeling of warmth and friendship was very much in the air. The choice of Xian, the symbol and witness of the millennium-old friendly exchanges between the Indian and Chinese peoples, is in itself of great significance. There, Mr. Modi visited the famous Terracotta Warriors and Daxingshan Temple, where three eminent Indian monks taught and promoted Buddhism more than 1,400 years ago. Hundreds of thousands of residents lined up the streets to welcome Mr. Modi, waving and shouting “Modi, Modi”, all eager to catch a glimpse and maybe take a picture of the Prime Minister. Moved by their enthusiasm, Mr. Modi stopped the motorcade to interact with local people.
At the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, the Yoga-Taichi event brought together more than 400 people aged eight to 80. At Tsinghua University and the opening ceremony of the Centre for Gandhian and Indian Studies at Fudan University, Mr. Modi’s remarks were a big hit. At the State and Provincial Leaders’ Forum, many local leaders from the two countries queued to have photos with Mr. Modi and Mr. Li. At the business forum in Shanghai, many top Chinese CEOs expressed their desire to invest in India. During the visit, Mr. Modi posted dozens of tweets and Weibo, including the much-liked-and-forwarded selfie with Mr. Li. All this speaks volumes of the strong will of our two peoples to build on the traditional friendship and open up new prospects in China-India relations.
The three-day visit has been successfully concluded, but with its fruitful achievements and wide-ranging impact, it will leave a big imprint on our relations. As our cooperation in high-speed railway, the train of China-India relations has entered a fast track of high-speed growth. As Chinese Ambassador to India, I am truly encouraged by this milestone visit. We will implement the outcomes of the visit, enhance exchanges and cooperation across the board in the interest of our two countries and two peoples, and jointly write a new chapter in the duet of the Chinese dragon and the Indian elephant.
The writer is the Ambassador of China to India
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Takeaways from China
- 1 For enhanced border defence cooperation, a "hotline" to work between the Military Headquarters >Read more
- 2 ISRO and China space agency to sign Space Cooperation Outline for Deep Space Exploration >Read more
- 3 Sisterhood between Karnataka & Sichuan; Aurangabad & Dunhuang, Chennai & Chongqing, Hyderabad & Qingdao >Read more
- 4 Extend electronic tourist visas to Chinese nationals. India will celebrate the "Year of China" next year >Read more
- 5 Agreement on climate change later this year, will address mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology development and transfer >Read more
- 6 China will open a new Consulate General in Chennai, India will open one in Chengdu >Read more
- 7 Tackle growing trade deficit by expanding economic relations in Infrastructure, IT, Pharma, Agriculture and Manufacturing >Read more