PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, on the first day of the Modi-Xi summit, had five hours of discussions, barring the half an hour of the cultural program in Tamil Nadu. Both the leaders took part in various activities in the historic town of Mamallapuram. From attending a cultural program to visiting the places of historical significance, PM Modi and President Jinping covered all the possible aspects that one can discover in an informal bilateral. Being a part of the second such meeting, both the world leaders broadly discussed the national visions and progress in the bilateral relations between the two countries. The foreign secretary of India, Vijay Gokhale, in a press briefing by the Ministry of External Affairs, explained all the things PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping covered on the first day of the informal bilateral in India.
Vijay Gokhale explained how PM Modi and Xi Jinping spoke about historical links between India and China during their visit to historical sites. He said, “President Xi Jinping and PM Modi, during the tour of the monuments, spoke of the historical and trading links between China and the southern part of India. The trade particularly took place between Tamil Nadu and the eastern coast of China when the Pallava and Chola dynasties ruled the place. They both referred to a port city called Juancho in Fujian, where recently, Tamil inscriptions and fragments of architecture reflecting a possible temple built by Tamil traders in the 12th century have been discovered. President Xi Jinping also said that he was aware of this.
According to the MEA, both leaders also discussed how both the countries can enhance their knowledge in this aspect of India and China’s bilateral relationship. Gokhale added, “There was a reference to Bodhidharma who had left India from the shore of Tamil Nadu. He took Buddhism to China and Japan. The PM also explained the significance of the world heritage site - Arjuna’s Penance to the Chinese president. PM Modi said that Arjuna Penance is one of the national treasures that India has. The Prime Minister also explained how the carvings on Arjuna Penance reflects the harmony between man and nature. Similarly, when PM took President Xi Jinping to Ganesh Rath, he explained that this was a temple where even after the 1300 years of its construction the temple continues to be a part of our living culture and civilisation. Worship still takes place in this temple even today; India like China has a very long and continuous history.”
During their dinner, both the leaders also spoke about issues related to terrorism and radicalisation. The foreign secretary explained, “The challenges that both the countries face on the account of terrorism were acknowledged by both the countries. They agreed that both countries are very complex, very diverse and both leaders said that these were large countries and radicalisation was a matter of concern to both. They agreed that both countries would work towards seeing that radicalisation and terrorism would not affect the fabric of our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious societies. There is a general sense that both the leaders had, and they would work towards overcoming it.”
The discussions that took place during the dinner stretched over 150 minutes that is roughly two and a half hours. The MEA said, “Discussions were very open and cordial. This was quality time that two leaders spent together, one on one. The rest of the two delegations were in fact in two separate locations having dinner. The two leaders had a detailed discussion on their respective national visions and on their governance priorities. PM Modi, in fact, reiterated that having been re-elected to the second term, he has received a renewed mandate for economic development. President Xi Jinping acknowledging the fact that PM Modi had received such a huge mandate said that he was looking forward to working closely with PM Modi over all the issues during the next four years. They also spoke about other developmental priorities, in particular, there were some discussions over trade-related issues, economic issues, and issues on trying to identify the areas for investment that the two countries could encourage. Discussions on how to enhance the trade volume and trade value also took place. This also included the discussions on the trade deficit and unbalanced trade that exists.”
The MEA reiterated that both the leaders liked the arrangements made by the State Government for their welcome. Gokhale said, “PM has complemented the Government of Tamil Nadu for the excellent arrangements and work they have done. President Xi Jinping has also said that he was overwhelmed with the welcome that was given to him at the airport and the arrangements that have been made for him during his stay in Chennai”. The Ministry also said that the walk-around that the Prime Minister and President Xi Jinping did in the three separate sites of Mamallapuram, reflect the personal rapport that the two leaders have.
The foreign secretary also said that both the leaders appreciated the cultural program, “For the cultural program, both the leaders greatly appreciated the work done by Kalakshetra. There was a huge effort put it by all the artists, both the people who danced and put up a musical show. PM Modi and President Xi were delighted by the performance and they took a photo with the artists. They spoke to artists and also congratulated them.”