Modi begins China visit in Xi'an amid warming ties

2015-05-14 07:27:27 GMT2015-05-14 15:27:27(Beijing Time)  Agencies

XI'AN, China — Lion dancers and flower-bearing children welcomed Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to central China where President Xi Jinping planned to host him with a touch of personal diplomacy that is rare for a Chinese leader.

Modi arrived at the airport in Xi'an clad in a traditional Indian costume. He then visited the museum showing China's famed terra cotta warriors and a Buddhist temple housing works translated from Sanskrit. In the afternoon, he was scheduled to hold a lengthy meeting with Xi, whose family hails from the region.

By hosting of Modi in his home province of Shaanxi, Xi is reciprocating for the Indian leader's invitation to Xi to his own hometown of Ahmadebad last year. Chinese leaders almost never receive their foreign counterparts in anything other than formal settings in Beijing.

The visit highlights warming ties between the rising Asian powers — the world's two most populous nations, with a combined population of 2.6 billion — despite their continuing rivalry and contrasting political systems. That trend has been given added impetus by the personal authority enjoyed by the two men, who are widely seen as their countries' strongest leaders in years.

China is looking to India as a market for its increasingly high-tech goods, from high-speed trains to nuclear power plants, while India is keen to attract Chinese investment in manufacturing and infrastructure. With a slowing economy, excess production capacity and nearly $4 trillion in foreign currency reserves, China is ready to satisfy India's estimated $1 trillion in demand for infrastructure projects such as airports, roads, ports and railways.

Modi's top priority in China is finding ways to reduce India's $48 billion trade deficit with its neighbor through greater market access for Indian goods and services and by convincing Chinese companies to manufacture in India.

Indian and Chinese officials have said the sides plan to sign investment deals and trade agreements during Modi's visit worth about $10 billion, the official China Daily newspaper reported Thursday.

Xi and Modi are also expected to discuss efforts to end a long-festering border dispute that sparked a bloody month-long conflict in 1962. No resolution is expected soon, although the sides have been in close contact to avoid flare-ups.


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