Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in India Wednesday on a three-day visit that would see trade and investment topping the agenda of talks between him and Prime Minister Narendra Modi besides other bilateral issues, including of the festering border question.
Xi is arriving in Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Gujarat state, Wednesday at the head of a high-powered delegation. In a first, Modi will receive the Chinese president in Ahmedabad after which the two sides are to ink some agreements related to the region. Xi is to visit Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram and spend some time there along with Modi, who is to host a private dinner for the Chinese president at the Sabarmati riverfront. The day would also mark Modi’s 64th birthday.
The two leave for Delhi the same evening. On Thursday, Modi and Xi would hold talks at Hyderabad House which would be followed by the inking of several agreements, including on infrastructure and railways, between the two sides. The talks between the two leaders come amid reports of Chinese civilians entering Indian territory in Demchok in Ladakh.
“All substantive issues which have a bearing on India-China relations will be discussed” between the two, the external affairs ministry spokesperson has said. The issue of China issuing stapled visas to Indian citizens of Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir is also likely to figure in the deliberations. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj last week said that India wants China to “understand and appreciate” its “sensitivities” regarding Arunachal Pradesh as New Delhi respects Beijing’s position on Tibet and Taiwan.
Xi is scheduled to deliver a keynote address under the auspices of the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) Thursday late afternoon. Vice President Hamid Ansari will call on Xi. In the evening, the Chinese president would call on President Pranab Mukherjee, who is to host a banquet in his honour. On Friday, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Congress president Sonia Gandhi would call on him, before he departs.
The Chinese president’s visit to India comes days after Modi’s successful Japan visit, during which the Japanese government committed to invest $35 billion in India for development projects. India and Japan also elevated their ties from a Strategic and Global Partnership to a Special Strategic and Global Partnership. Japan is locked in a bitter quarrel with China over some disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Among the accords expected to be inked during Xi’s visit is a sister city agreement between Ahmedabad and China’s most developed Guangdong province. Both sides are also expected to announce the setting up of two industrial parks by China, one each in Gujarat and Maharashtra. India-China trade totalled $66.4 billion last year, which was heavily skewed in China’s favour.
India has voiced concern at the mounting trade deficit which averaged $35 billion. China’s investments in India are at present around $400 million, mostly in Gujarat. China’s foreign exchange reserves, which are the largest in the world, touched $3.95 trillion earlier this year. Beijing has announced plans to invest around $500 billion overseas in the next five years. XI’s visit comes at a time when President Mukherjee is visiting Vietnam. China and Vietnam are not on the best of diplomatic terms over Beijing’s claim to the whole of South China Sea.
On Monday, Modi extended his welcome to the Chinese president’s visit on twitter. ”On 17th, I look forward to welcoming President Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad. Am sure his visit will strengthen India-China ties,” Modi wrote. Modi and Xi have met earlier, on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil in July.
President Xi will be accompanied by his wife, Peng Liyuan, a noted singer, two senior members of the Communist Party of China Politburo, State Councillor Yang Jiechi, who was formerly foreign minister, Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Minister for Commerce Gao Hucheng besides other officials.