When Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives in New Delhi on September 17, on the last leg of his four-nation tour, which includes Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Tajikistan, he will be hoping that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government will be ready to ink some important trade- and commerce-related agreements that China is pitching for.
Final dates of the visit were announced here after National Security Adviser and Prime Minister’s Special Envoy Ajit Doval met Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Special Representative Yang Jiechi. Doval also met the Chinese President in the evening to hand over Modi’s personal invitation.
Doval and Chinese representatives also firmed up some of the agreements that the two sides are expecting to sign during President Xi’s maiden visit to India as head of state.
As expected, the Chinese leader has decided to postpone a visit to Pakistan now due to ongoing unrest in the country.
Xi, who is also general secretary of the ruling Communist Party of China, will arrive in Ahmedabad on September 17 and, after spending a few hours there, will leave for Delhi in the evening.
On top of Xi’s wish-list is an agreement with India to facilitate participation of Chinese companies, particularly China Railway, in the Modi’s government ambitious bullet train plan. The Chinese government, it is learnt, is planning to offer finance for the project if Chinese companies are allowed to execute the same.
The Chinese government is also expected to offer services of its companies in setting up two industrial parks — one each in Ahmedabad and Maharashtra, twin city projects, as well as redouble its efforts to work closely with India on climate change issue, energy, tourism and film industry.
The Chinese government is also keen to ink a deal at creating some “sister provinces”, an arrangement where a state/city from one country will have close ties with a state from the other side. These sister-provinces could include Shanghai and Mumbai and Gujarat and Guandong province in South China.
Talking to visiting Indian journalists, Assistant Foreign Minister of China Liu Jianchao ruled out the possibility of Modi’s remarks about some countries’ “expansionist” mindset, made during his recent trip to Japan and that were seen as aimed at China, casting any shadow on Xi’s visit. “It is not a zero sum game… We want a bigger cake so that everybody can have a bigger share,” Liu said.
Incidentally, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday clarified that Modi’s remarks in Tokyo were not against China.
Asked if any progress could be expected on the India-China border issue, Liu said, “It is a fact that Indian and China have border issues. But both sides don’t shy away from discussing. We are having consultations.”
On the issue of cooperation between India and China on sprucing up the rail network in India, the Chinese official said apart from building and helping run bullet or high speed trains, Chinese companies are also keen to assist India in upgrading the existing railway tracks and stations as well as cooperate on personnel training.
He also said if India applies for membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), it would be considered. “There will be discussion (during the visit) to include India to the SCO. India had earlier indicated that it is interested in joining. I am not clear if India has made a formal application. During this summit, we will have clarity on rules and regulations about those wanting to join,” he said.