Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday officially announced his visit to China from May 14 to 16 on the microblog website Weibo, saying he is looking forward to have productive discussions with top Chinese leadership.
“Looking forward to visiting China from 14-16 May to strengthen friendship between our two ancient civilisations and the two largest developing countries,” Modi wrote on the Chinese microblog that has over 500 million users.
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“Eagerly awaiting my visit to Xi’an, Beijing and Shanghai and my productive discussions with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang,” he said in another post. This is the first time his visit has been officially announced.
Modi yesterday made his debut on Sina Weibo, the popular Chinese microblog akin to the Twitter and Facebook, ahead of his visit, saying “Hello China! Looking forward to interacting with Chinese friends through Weibo.”
He followed by another post later in the day highlighting the links forged by Buddhism between India and China and its potential to make this an Asian century.
“I would like to convey my greetings to all of you on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. Today, we remember the august ideals & mission of Lord Buddha, who spread the message of harmony & brotherhood & envisioned a peaceful world. Buddha is a binding force that connects us, Asian Nations. It can emerge as a strong unifying force to make this century an Asian Century.”
His posts drew wide response with over 25,000 commenting on them.
Modi would kick off his visit to China from ancient Chinese city of Xi’an where he would be hosted by President Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan to reciprocate the hometown bonhomie displayed by the Indian leader when the Chinese leader visited Ahmadabad in September last year. Xi’an is the provincial capital of Shaanxi province, the home province of President Xi.
It is rare for Chinese leaders to receive foreign guests in cities other than Beijing and according to officials Xi was keen to reciprocate warm and innovative welcome extended by Modi when he visited India.
Besides entertaining Xi and Peng with a Jhula ride, which topped the collection of their photo album of foreign visits last year, Modi also took them to Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmathi Ashram where he and Xi spun the Charkha in Gandhian style.
“Warmly recall my conversations with President Xi Jinping and his invitation to visit Xi’an in his home province; looking forward to visiting this historic city associated with Xuan Zang (famous Chinese Buddhist scholar) and his journey to India in his quest for knowledge,” Modi said in another post.
“I am confident my visit will lay the foundation for further enhancing economic co-operation with China in a wide range of sectors. I also look forward to meeting the captains of industry in Shanghai and sharing with them the wonderful opportunities India has to offer.
“(I) Am certain that my visit to China will strengthen stability, progress and prosperity in Asia,” he said.
Hectic preparations are underway for Modi’s visit.
While officials were tight lipped about the programme, the visit was expected to be high on optics with rare outings of Chinese leaders accompanying the visiting dignitaries.
Officials say Xi may accompany Modi to the Wild Goose Pagoda, a spiritual structure build to highlight famous Chinese Buddhist monk Xuan Zang’s journey to India in 645 AD through the ancient Silk Road and his return after a 17-year long sojourn with precious Buddhist scriptures.
The Xi couple will host a banquet for Modi in Xi’an after which he would arrive in Beijing where he would hold in depth talks with Xi and Li on May 15 on the sticky issue of border dispute and improvement of bilateral ties with large Chinese investments.
Besides holding talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing, Modi was expected to attend an event alongwith Li featuring Yoga and Chinese martial art Thai Chi at the Temple of Heaven.
On the third day, he would visit Shanghai where he would address business meeting to highlight the importance of ‘Make in India’ campaign.
He would also address a big get-together of Indians working in China similar to the meetings he addressed during his recent abroad visits.
Indian associations in different Chinese cities have sent out invitations to their members to take part in the meeting. This is the first time an Indian leader will be addressing such a meeting in China.
According to official estimates about 45,000 Indians, mostly professionals, businessmen and students currently stay in China.