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Trade, defence, new era of ties: 2-day Modi-Xi Chennai Connect informal summit ends

he informal meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping concluded on a cordial note on Saturday. Both leaders had arrived in Mamallapuram in Chennai on Friday to hold their second informal summit.

The summit is a follow up to the inaugural meet which was held in Wuhan from April 27 to 28, 2018.

PM Modi chose Mamallapuram as the venue for the second informal summit to stress on the historic association and civilisational ties between India and China going back over 2,000 years.

While the first day of the meeting was marked with cultural exchanges and a free-wheeling talk between the two supremos, the second day began with PM Modi plogging at Mamallapuram beach. A tete-a-tete with the Chinese president followed as the day went by.

Discussion on bilateral ties, cultural tour, delegation meetings and much more were part of the Modi-Xi meet. Here are highlights from their two-day visit to Chennai:

Prime Minister Modi bade farewell to Chinese President Xi Jinping as he departed from Kovalam hotel. (Photo: Twitter)

Day 1: Cultural tour, sumptuous food and trade talks

1: Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Chennai to a red carpet welcome for his second informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi amid strained bilateral ties.

PM Modi, who was donning a Tamil traditional ‘veshti’ (dhoti), a shawl, and a shirt, shook hands with the Chinese president as the two leaders exchanged pleasantries.

2: PM Modi and Xi Jinping visited three heritage sites– Arjuna’s Penance, Pancha Rathas and the shore temple, all key landmarks of this quaint town. Xi Jinping took the tour in a luxury Chinese car.

Xi Jinping covered the 57-km journey to Mamallapuram from Chennai by road, travelling in a specially flown in “Hongqi” limousine.

PM Modi and Xi Jinping took a cultural tour in Chennai. (Photo: Twitter)

The “Hongqi” is a luxury Chinese car used by leaders of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) from the time of its founder Mao Zedong. In Chinese, “hongqi” means the red flag.

4:The two leaders then attended a 30-minute cultural programme at the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram that included Alarippu, a dance performance offering respect to God and teacher and Purappadu, a component of the initial part of Kathakali, a traditional Indian dance.

5: Post these arrangements, both Modi and Xi held a two-and-a-half-hour open and cordial one-on-one discussion over dinner, vowing to jointly combat terrorism and radicalisation, and expand bilateral trade and investment. The two sides also discussed how “radicalisation” has become one of the biggest challenges facing the two nations.

They both spoke on national visions, govt priorities, trade-related issues, economic issues, investment opportunities, trade deficit and trade imbalance over a sumptuous dinner.

“Terrorism figured during the discussions between the two leaders. Both acknowledged that both countries were complex and large,” Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said.

Day 2: No Kashmir Talks, clarifies foreign secretary

A big question was raised on Day 2 of the Modi-Xi meet. will Kashmir be on cards in Mamallapuram? Vijay Gokhale said it wasn’t.

1: PM Modi started off his second day in Chennai by helping clean up the Mamallapuram beach, keeping in sync with the Swatchch Bharat Abhiyaan. He tweeted a video where he is seen collecting plastic and putting it in a bag. He captioned his Twitter post as–” Let us ensure our public places are clean and tidy! Let us also ensure we remain fit and healthy.”

PM Modi plogging at Mamallupuram beach. (Photo: Twitter)

2: The serious engagements on Day 2 began with the two leaders holding 50-minute long tete-a-tete at Taj Fisherman’s Cove hotel in Kovalam.

Trade relations were said to be the focal point of the discussions.

3: After taking a stroll on the beach, PM Modi and Xi-Jinping headed for a delegation-level meeting at Tango hall.

The core delegation members on the Indian side included S Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister; National Security Advisor Ajit Doval; Vijay Gokhale, Foreign Secretary; Vikram Misri, Indian Ambassador to China; Naveen Srivastava, JS East Asia; and Raveesh Kumar, MEA Spokesperson.

On the Chinese side, the main delegation had Ding Xuexiang, member of the political bureau of Central Committee; Yang Jiechi, member of the political bureau of Central Committee, and Wang Yi, Foreign Minister.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered the opening remark at the ongoing delegation-level talks at the Tango hall in Mamallupuram. (Photo: Twitter)

4: While delivering the opening speech at the delegation-level talks, PM Modi said that a new era of cooperation will begin on Saturday in Sino-India ties through the “Chennai connect”.

He said, “Today’s Chennai meet is the start of a new era in India-China relations.”

“The first informal summit between India and China last year in Wuhan led to fresh stability in our relations and gave a fresh momentum. Strategic communication between our two countries has also increased,” PM Modi said.

“We had decided to prudently manage differences and not to allow them to become disputes. We had decided that we will be sensitive towards each other’s concerns,” PM Modi said.

Vijay Gokhale said after the meeting the two leaders also deliberated on trade and economic issues with a focus on identifying new areas for investment and enhancing trade volume and value of two-way trade.

5: In the following speech, Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “We are overwhelmed by India’s sincere welcome. This will be a memorable visit for us. This will be a far-reaching impact on us. We made the right decision for this kind of informal summit.”

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