Xi’an (China) : Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off his visit to China with a visit to Xi’an, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s hometown, and that country’s media has taken notice, with many noting that it is unusual for a Chinese leader to meet a visiting dignitary at any city apart from Beijing.
The China Daily quoted director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, Hu Shisheng, as saying that Xi’an symbolises the cultural exchanges between India and China. “Xi’an symbolizes the two countries’ cultural exchanges. It’s apparent the leaders are seeking to deepen their personal ties and highlight the two civilizations’ cultural links by making Xi’an the first stop.Xi’an, previously known as Chang’an, was a major city at the start of the ancient Silk Road, and the visit is a way for [Prime Minister] Modi to welcome China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative,” Hu said.
The Global Times said that Prime Minister Modi will be aiming to ink a USD 10 billion deal with China, noting that President Xi greeting him outside Beijing was a rare event. “It is a rare practice for a Chinese leader to receive a foreign leader outside the capital city Beijing. It has been less than a year since Xi’s maiden visit to India in September, when he went to Modi’s hometown in Gujarat. This makes Xi’s invitation to Modi to visit Xi’an a reciprocal gesture of goodwill,” director of the Department of South Asian Languages, Peking University, Jiang Jingkui was quoted by the Global Times as saying. “The two countries are likely to sign deals worth USD 10 billion during Modi’s first visit as prime minister that will also take him to Beijing and Shanghai as he attempts to attract investments for Indian manufacturing and infrastructure,” the Global Times also wrote.
Meanwhile, the Shanghai Daily focussed on Prime Minister Modi’s economic agenda during his visit, writing that India and China could mutually satisfy their needs with respect to trade and investment. “China is looking to India as a market for its increasingly high-tech goods, while India is keen to attract Chinese investment in manufacturing and infrastructure,” the paper wrote. “With a slowing economy, excess production capacity and nearly USD four trillion in foreign currency reserves, China is ready to satisfy India’s estimated USD one trillion demand for infrastructure projects such as airports, roads, ports and railways,” it added. Prime Minister Modi, who is on the first leg of his three-nation tour of China, Mongolia and South Korea, began his visit to the People’s Republic by landing in Xi’an. During his visit of China, Prime Minister Modi will also travel to Beijing and Shanghai, before departing for the second leg of his tour, Mongolia. He will conclude his tour with a visit of South Korea, where he will participate in the sixth Asian Leadership Conference.