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May 14, 2015

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President Xi has a hometown welcome for India’s PM Modi

PRESIDENT Xi Jinping will today host Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his hometown of Xi’an at the start of the official’s three-day visit to China.

The personal touch hints at warming ties between the Asian giants. It also returns the favor after Modi hosted Xi in his own hometown of Ahmadebad last year.

During Modi’s visit, the two men will aim to move beyond that symbolism and take substantial steps to seal a new spirit of cooperation.

In Xi’an, the two leaders are expected to visit the China’s famed terracotta warriors and the Wild Goose Pagoda, a renowned Buddhist site.

Tomorrow in Beijing, the two will hold formal talks before Modi moves on to Shanghai on Saturday, where he will address what is being billed as the largest-ever gathering of Indians in China and meet with business leaders such as Alibaba’s Jack Ma, who has invested in Indian technology start-ups.

China is looking to India as a market for its increasingly high-tech goods, while India is keen to attract Chinese investment in manufacturing and infrastructure.

With a slowing economy, excess production capacity and nearly US$4 trillion in foreign currency reserves, China is ready to satisfy India’s estimated US$1 trillion demand for infrastructure projects such as airports, roads, ports and railways.

“India is looking for investment and China has the money,” said Srikanth Kondapalli, Chinese studies professor at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University.

In China, the top priority for Modi will be exploring ways of reducing India’s US$48 billion trade deficit with its neighbor amid flagging demand for India’s main export to China, iron ore.

That task could be eased by establishing a close, personal relationship with Xi and other Chinese leaders, helping Modi further his domestic agenda of strengthening the Indian economy through trade ties and Chinese investment, said T. C. A. Rangachari, a former Indian ambassador to Beijing.

“I think the personal relationship helps,” he said.

The two leaders are expected to build on agreements reached during Xi’s visit to India to begin discussions on civil nuclear energy plus embark on a five-year economic and trade development plan.

They are also likely to discuss efforts to end a long-festering border dispute that sparked a bloody monthlong conflict in 1962.


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