Chinese president Xi Jinping arrived in Gujarat to a grand welcome for a three-day India visit aimed at ramping up trade and investment. His visit comes in the middle of a new face-off at the contested border between India and China at the Line of Actual Control.
PM Modi, who celebrates his 64th birthday on Wednesday, greeted President Xi with flowers and a handshake.
The two leaders strolled down the decked up Sabarmati riverfront, and sat on a swing, swaying in a light breeze as dancers and performers put up a show.
President Xi, the First Lady and Mr Modi were seen chatting in the fading sunlight while posing for photographs besides luxury tents set up for a banquet. Mr Modi also gifted the Chinese First Lady a set of bangles.
PM Modi and President Xi will share a moonlight dinner tonight in a Swiss luxury tent by the river. The Chinese visitors will be treated to a 150-dish Gujarati banquet.
Earlier, President Xi paid tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at the Sabarmati Ashram, and sat barefoot to work a spinning wheel.
President Xi has brought along with him a business delegation of 135 Chinese CEOs. China is expected to pledge 100 billion dollars to be spent over five years on modernizing railways, industrial parks, power generation and smart cities in India.
The Chinese president’s visit comes as both countries are locked in a border standoff after more than 200 soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army reportedly crossed into Indian Territory in Ladakh earlier this week and set about building a 2-km road at the Chumur sector.
India took a strong stand at a flag meeting initiated by China on Tuesday and said it would firmly defend its 3,500-km border with the country. The meeting was inconclusive.
India will not sign a liberalized visa pact with China; it is likely to convey its strong objection to China issuing stapled visas to Indians from Arunachal Pradesh.
Both sides signed pacts, including a twin-city agreement between Ahmedabad and Guangdong city. President Xi flies to Delhi late on Wednesday. This is the first visit to India by a Chinese president since 2006.