On 14 May 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi began a three-day visit to China from Xi’an, north west city of China and the hometown of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
President Xi set aside protocol to receive a foreign dignitary outside Beijing in replay of the Indian leader’s gesture in September 2014 when he welcomed the Chinese President in Ahmedabad.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also visited the famous Terracotta Warriors Museum, which has a large collection of sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China.
Even as mutual warmth was apparent, Modi raised the question of some $ 46 billion investment by China in an economic corridor passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), about which India had protested. The investments were announced during Xi’s visit to Pakistan last month.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked China to “reconsider” its approach on some of the issues and take a strategic and long-term view to push the relationship which has been “complex” in recent decades.
On the political side, there was a lot of discussion on strengthening trust and increasing convergence.
On the economic front, Modi and Xi discussed the issue of trade deficit, which is in favour of China to the tune of $ 38 billion, and ways to address it.
Protocol for setting up Consulates-General at Chengdu and Chennai besides an MoU on consultative mechanism for cooperation in trade negotiations were among the 24 agreements signed in the presence of Prime Minister Modi and his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, at the Hebei Room at the Great Hall of People, Beijing.
The agreements focussed on railways, space cooperation, tourism, maritime security, human resource development, skill development and cooperation between Doordarshan and China Central Television (CCTV).
Four agreements were signed on sister-state and sister city relations between Karnataka and Sichuan province; Chennai and Chongqing; Hyderabad and Qingdao; and Aurangabad and Dunhuang.
Two MoUs between Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Yunnan Minzu University and another with Fudan University were signed on the establishment of a Yoga college and centre for Gandhian and Indian studies, respectively.
In the joint statement, the two countries agreed to start annual visits between their militaries, expand exchanges between the border commanders and start using a military hotline that has been discussed in recent years to defuse flare-ups on the border.
Prime Minister Modi also met National People’s Congress (NPC) standing committee chairman Zhang Dejiang, as also visited the Tsinghua University, where he addressed the students. His final engagement at Beijing was the visit to the Temple of Heaven, where he attended a yoga-tai chi joint event.
Prime Minister Modi also visited Shanghai where he inaugurated a Gandhian and Indian Studies Centre at Shanghai’s prestigious Fudan University. India would fund the centre, which is seen as significant as Gandhi is a little-known in China compared to other parts of the world.
Mr Modi also inaugurated the first branch of ICICI Bank in China.