AHMEDABAD, India - Wearing traditional Indian vest presented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Xi Jinping visited Modi’s home state of Gujarat on Sept 17, and extended wishes to his 64th birthday.
Both leaders called for advancing bilateral ties “step by step” and “inch by inch” in their second meeting in about two months. The two met in July in Brazil at a summit of the emerging-market bloc of BRICS.
“I am very delighted to come to your home state as soon as I land on the Indian soil,” Xi told Modi in a brief meeting shortly after he arrived in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat Wednesday afternoon.
“This is where eminent Chinese monk Xuan Zang went by during his trip to India to seek Buddhist scriptures in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and thus enjoys a special position in the long history of friendly exchanges between our two countries,” he said.
China and India are important neighbors to each other, Xi said, noting that both are ancient civilizations and large developing countries, and are committed to development and national rejuvenation.
The two countries should respect each other, learn from each other, build good-neighborly and friendly relations, and go forward hand in hand, Xi said.
“My visit is a trip of friendship and cooperation. Thank you for specially coming here to accompany me in visiting your hometown,” Xi told Modi, who had served as chief minister of Gujarat for over a decade before becoming India’s prime minister in May.
It is Xi’s first trip to India since he took office in March 2013, and also the first state visit in eight years by a Chinese president to the country.
Citing an ancient Chinese famous line “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” Xi called for a down-to-earth and persistent manner to press ahead with the China-India relations.
“I would like to make concerted efforts with you to accomplish this mission,” Xi said.
For his part, Modi said the people in Gujarat felt very honored as President Xi started the India visit from his home state.
Recalling their first meeting in Brazil, Modi said he and Xi had very good talks and he shared Xi’s feeling that the meeting was like between “old friends.”
The prime minister said his remarks that China and India are one mind with two bodies are widely circulated in India, as the two countries share the same aspiration for development and have every reason to strengthen cooperation.
To welcome President Xi’s visit to India, Modi said, he wrote an article for Indian newspapers, describing the potential of India-China ties as “INCH (India and China) towards MILES (Millennium of Exceptional Synergy).”
In the presence of the two leaders, China and India clinched the deals of setting up an industrial park in India focused on building power transmission equipment, and establishing sister province-state relations between China’s Guangdong and Gujarat and sister city relations between China’s Guangzhou and Ahmedabad.
Also in the afternoon of Sept 17, Modi accompanied Xi’s visit to the former residence of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of India’s national independence movement.
Xi pointed out that the Chinese and Indian peoples sympathized with and supported each other and forged profound friendship in the fight against colonialism for national independence, stressing that “we must carry forward the friendship.”
As they walked along the Sabarmati River in the city, Modi briefed Xi on the Sabarmati riverfront development project, saying it is the largest shantytown renovation project in India.
Modi and Xi celebrated the prime minister’s 64th birthday together, which Modi said was very meaningful and unforgettable.
India is the last stop of Xi’s four-nation tour in Central and South Asia, which has already taken him to Tajikistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka. In Tajikistan, he also attended a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.