Narendra Modi begins his first trip to China as prime minister of India on Thursday. The three-day visit will include time with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Xian and a Yoga-Tai Chi event at one of Beijing’s most-revered temples.
It comes at a time when both India and China have heightened their geopolitical competition – a reflection, in part, of Mr. Modi’s more muscular policy toward Beijing.
Staff | The Wall Street Journal
Chinese President Xi Jinping hosted Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his ancestral home town at the start of a three-day visit to China on Thursday as the two Asian giants work to boost economic ties despite decades of mistrust.
It was the first time Xi had invited a foreign leader to his father’s home province of Shaanxi, in the heart of central China, a signal that the two may set aside suspicions over a festering border issue to sign billions in trade deals.
Modi’s visit reciprocated Xi’s trip to India in September, when Modi took Xi to his home state of Gujurat.
“China is a huge market. As far as India is concerned, it’s a totally under-exploited market,” said T.C.A. Rangachari, a former Indian ambassador to France and Germany who worked on China affairs for more than 15 years.
Megha Rajagopalan | Reuters
Prime Minsiter Narendra Modi is set to make his first visit to China after coming to power last year, though he has already visited the neighbouring nation as the chief minister of Gujarat.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will host Modi in his hometown of Xian, in a bid to recreate the magic of the reception he got in Modi’s hometown last year.
Here is Modi’s schedule while he is in China for three days, as provided by the Ministry of External Affairs on its website.
Mugdha Variyar | The International Business Times
Indian PM Narendra Modi has begun a three-day visit to China as the two countries seek to boost economic cooperation. Mr Modi will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping in Xian, capital of Mr Xi’s home province of Shaanxi, and will later travel to Beijing and Shanghai. The leaders of the world’s two most populous nations are expected to sign deals worth billions of dollars.
Relations are still strained over a long-running border dispute.
China is India’s biggest trading partner with commerce between the two countries totalling $71bn (£45bn; €62bn) in 2014. But Indian figures show that its trade deficit with China has spiralled from just $1bn in 2001-02 to more than $38bn in 2014.
Mr Modi said ahead of his visit that he hoped it would increase the prosperity of Asia. “I am confident my visit will lay the foundation for further enhancing economic co-operation with China in a wide range of sectors,” he tweeted last week.
President Xi Jinping praised China’s warming ties with India during a meeting Thursday between the leaders of Asia’s rising powers and rivals, which included a rare touch of personal diplomacy for a Chinese leader.
Xi met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a sprawling government guest house in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province, from which the president’s family hails. China-India relations “are experiencing stable development and facing broad prospects,” Xi was quoted as telling Modi by China’s official Xinhua News Agency.
The exchanges highlight warming ties between the two powers — the world’s most populous nations with a combined 2.6 billion people — despite their continuing rivalry and contrasting political systems. That trend has gained momentum by the personal authority enjoyed by the two men, who are widely seen as their countries’ strongest leaders in years.
Modi’s visit will “push forward the bilateral strategic partnership to achieve new progress, which has potential for greater development,” Xi said.