PM Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping vow to 'solidify' relationship
PM offers to host next 'informal summit' in India next year; more talks, lakeside walk today.
New Delhi/Wuhan: On the first day of the two-day Sino-Indian informal summit at the top leadership level in the central Chinese industrial city of Wuhan, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed the centuries-old Sino-Indian ties, telling Chinese President Xi Jinping that the two countries have a "big opportunity" to work together for the benefit of their people and the world. Mr Modi also offered to host the next informal summit with President Xi in India next year, a proposal which elicited a positive response from the Chinese President.
The "heart-to-heart" summit at Wuhan, the favourite holiday spot of revolutionary Chinese leader Mao Zedong, is being seen as an effort by India and China to "solidify" their relationship and rebuild trust that had been hit by the 73-day-long Doklam standoff last year.
Mr Modi arrived in the central Chinese city early Friday for the summit, began talks soon after Mr Xi received him with a warm handshake and hosted a grand welcoming ceremony for him at the Hubei Provincial Museum. The Indian PM was welcomed with a classical Chinese dance opera performance, after which President Xi took him around to see some of the most historic art collections and cultural relics of China's ancient civilisation. The museum walk planned for 20 minutes lasted for over 40 minutes, after which they began one-on-one talks. MEA spokesman Raveesh Kumar said that the two leaders "exchanged views on solidifying our bilateral relationship".
During the delegation-level interaction as part of an unprecedented informal summit with President Xi, which included six senior officials from each side, Mr Modi said such informal summits should become a tradition between the two countries. "I'll be happy if, in 2019, we can have such an informal summit in India," Mr Modi told President Xi. On his part, President Xi said the two countries have established a closer partnership and made positive progress in recent years. "In the past five years, we have achieved a lot. We have met each other on many occasions," he said.
This indicates the two giant neighbours are trying to put their ties back on track after the bitterness of the Sino-Indian military standoff last year at Doklam in Bhutanese territory.
The two leaders will continue their one-on-one interaction on Saturday, with walks by the lakeside at Wuhan as well as a boat ride and wind up their talks over lunch, official sources said.
Sources had said earlier this week that the informal summit was planned with the objective of "strategic communication" between the two countries at the top leadership level and for the two leaders to understand each other's "vision".
President Xi said: "Our two countries have established closer partnership and cooperation. We have made positive progress. India and China have a combined population of 2.6 billion, which provides enormous potential for development.
The influence of our two countries is steadily rising in the region and the world." President Xi Jinping also said he believes in the future and the two leaders could meet in formats like this from time to time.
"I look forward to in-depth communication with Your Excellency, and ensure we can build common understanding and help to take the China-India relationship to the next level," he said, ahead of their one-on-one dinner at the State Guest House by the famous East Lake.
Prime Minister Modi said India and China have the responsibility to work for 40 per cent of the world population and the two sides have a big opportunity to work together for the benefit of their people and the world.
Mr Modi recalled that over 2,000 years of history, India and China had together provided momentum and strength to the world economy and dominated it for around 1,600 years.
"The two countries together constituted for about 50 per cent of the world economy and another 50 per cent was shared by the rest of the world for 1,600 years," Mr Modi said. He also said the people of India felt proud that President Xi has twice received him out of the capital.
"I'm perhaps the first Prime Minister of India for whom you have come out of the capital (Beijing) twice to receive me," Mr Modi said, referring to his visit to Xi'an - the hometown of President Xi - in 2015.
Mr Modi is again due to visit China to take part in the SCO summit to be held at Qingdao on June 9-10.