Xi to accord 'highest-level reception' for Modi: Chinese media

Xi to accord 'highest-level reception' for Modi: Chinese media

Xi to accord 'highest-level reception' for Modi: Chinese media

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be accorded a rare "highest-level reception" by President Xi Jinping as the two leaders look to deepen their personal ties, Chinese official media said today.

"Modi will begin his first trip to China since taking office a year ago by visiting the temple where Buddhist monk Xuanzang translated scriptures after an epic 17-year journey to India," a report in the state-run China Daily said.

"He will be given the highest-level reception when he arrives on Thursday, with President Xi Jinping accompanying him throughout his stay in Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province. It is very rare for Chinese leaders to accompany foreign guests outside Beijing," the report said, highlighting Modi's Chinese microblog tweet stating "President Xi invited me to visit his hometown."

Modi will be given formal state reception with guard of honour before his talks with Premier Li Keqiang here tomorrow. He is due to arrive in Beijing from Xian later tonight.

Xi's family is from Shaanxi province, and when he visited India in September, the trip began with Modi greeting the Chinese president in his home state Gujarat.

"I expect to visit the famous historic city closely related to Xuanzang," Modi had said.

Xuanzang was a key figure in Chinese Buddhism who lived during the early years of the Tang Dynasty (AD 617-907). He set off on his arduous trip to India, studied there for 17 years, then brought back many Buddhist sutras and translated them into Chinese.

"Xi'an symbolizes the two countries' cultural exchanges," said Hu Shisheng, director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"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," he said.

Hu said 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 Modi to welcome China's "One Belt, One Road Initiative".

"Last year, you all saw how Prime Minister Modi warmly welcomed President Xi. This time you will also see President Xi and Premier Li (Keqiang) welcome Prime Minister Modi in a special way," the daily quoted Indian Ambassador Ashok Kantha as saying.

It said Modi has prepared carefully for the trip, and opened his Sina Weibo account so he could make contact with the people of China. He wrote six pieces over the next five days and attracted more than 46000, fans, it said.

Kantha said the countries are likely to agree on more than 10 projects and sign at least 20 agreements on economic and trade cooperation during the visit.

Le Yucheng, China's ambassador to India, said that if the visit goes well, the value of the deals to be signed will exceed USD 10 billion.

Also in an editorial titled Neighrbours can usher in the Asian century, the Daily said leaders of the two countries "will draw a blueprint for closer collaboration in the future, which will be conducive to the common development and prosperity of the two neighbours and the region at large."

India is among the 57 founding members of the China- proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The two neighbors also cooperate closely in such multilateral platforms as BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and maintain communication and coordination on major regional and global issues.

As long as the two countries always see the larger picture of their bilateral ties and transcend their differences, it is beyond doubt the Chinese dragon and the Indian elephant will work together for the early revitalization of two civilisations.
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