By Sunrita Sen, dpa
NEW DELHI — Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in India Wednesday for a three-day trip aimed at boosting trade and investment between the two countries and to give a push to the resolution of a decades-old border dispute.
Xi, accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan and a high level delegation, landed to a grand welcome at Ahmedabad, the principal city in the western state of Gujarat, which is also Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state.
Setting aside protocol, Modi waited to greet Xi as he arrived at a local hotel, where they held brief one-on-one talks followed by the signing of three agreements.
The agreements included a new partnership between the Chinese province of Guangdong and Gujarat, one of the more prosperous Indian states, and between the states’ capital cities Guangdong and Ahmedabad.
The third memorandum signed in the presence of the two leaders cemented the creation of an industrial development park in Gujarat underpinned by Chinese investment.
“Unique chemistry between India & China can script history & create a better tomorrow for the entire humankind,” Modi tweeted on the eve of Xi’s arrival.
In an article in The Hindu newspaper, Xi said “the combination of the ‘world’s factory’ and the ‘world’s back office’ will produce the most competitive production base and the most attractive consumer market.”
Xi is scheduled to fly to the Indian capital later Wednesday, ahead of delegation-level talks with Modi and other Indian leaders on Thursday.
Xi’s other engagements in Ahmedabad included a visit to Mahatma Gandhi’s ashram, a walk along the spruced-up Sabarmati riverfront and a dinner in luxury tents set up for the occasion.
Boosting trade and increasing investment by China in infrastructure projects including highways, railways, ports, and industrial zones are expected to be covered in the discussions Thursday.
Contentious issues including disputed areas along a shared 3,500-kilometre border and India’s large trade deficit with China are also on the agenda, a spokesman for India’s Ministry of External Affairs said.
Xi’s visit comes amid reports in the Indian media of a fresh face-off between Indian and Chinese troops in the Ladakh region of India’s Jammu and Kashmir state.
Earlier this month, Modi made his first bilateral visit outside South Asia to Tokyo, which has increasingly bitter relations with Beijing. During the trip, Japan vowed to provide over 30 billion dollars in public and private lending and investment to India.
Indian media has been reporting that Xi is expected to pledge investments that exceed those promised by Japan.
“On a conservative estimate, I can say that we will commit investments of over 100 billion dollars or thrice the investments committed by Japan during our President Xi Jinping’s visit,” the Times of India quoted China’s consul general in Mumbai Liu Youfa as saying.
“These will be made in setting up of industrial parks, modernization of railways, highways, ports, power generation, distribution and transmission, automobiles, manufacturing, food processing, and textile industries.”
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