Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to arrive in Chennai post 2 PM on Friday to attend the second informal meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ahead of Xi's arrival, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Chennai by a special flight from Delhi. From here, the prime minister headed to the coastal town of Mahabalipuram, where he will receive the Chinese President. The two leaders are expected to attempt a strategic re-balancing in bilateral ties, strained by a hardline approach on the Kashmir issue from both sides.
Upon landing in Chennai, the prime minister wished the summit will further strengthen ties between India and China. Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Landed in Chennai. I am happy to be in the great land of Tamil Nadu, known for its wonderful culture and hospitality. It is gladdening that Tamil Nadu will host President Xi Jinping. May this Informal Summit further strengthen ties between India and China."
Landed in Chennai.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 11, 2019
I am happy to be in the great land of Tamil Nadu, known for its wonderful culture and hospitality.
It is gladdening that Tamil Nadu will host President Xi Jinping. May this Informal Summit further strengthen ties between India and China. pic.twitter.com/IvsTnoGVdW
Relevance of Mahabalipuram
Also referred to as Mamallapuram, the town was established in the 7th century AD by Narasimhavarman I of the Pallava dynasty, who was hailed as “Mamallan” for his excellence in warfare. The summit venue is located nearly 50 km from Chennai and was initially established as a seaport town by the Pallava king to carry out merchandise trade with other parts of the world.
Mahabalipuram, which is part of Tamil Nadu’s Kanchipuram district, is referred to in a Chinese text, Chien Han Shu, as ‘Huang Che’. Years back, Narasimhavarman II had offered help to the Chinese rulers to take on the Arabs and Tibetans.
In addition, India and China have had deep trade relations, which date back to the pre-Christ period. If historians are to be believed, there is archaeological evidence that supports the fact that Sino-India links date back to 2,000 years. Moreover, Chinese coins dating back to these centuries have also been found in the state.
Until the end of the 9th century AD, Mamallapuram town remained a part of China’s 'Silk Route' and India’s 'Spice Route'. In fact, Kanchipuram’s silk industry owes its genesis to the import of raw silk from China through Mamallapuram.
Hence, Mahabalipuram - or Mamallapuram serves as the best venue for the second informal summit between India and China.
What to expect from Modi-Xi summit
Last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was lavishly treated to Chinese hospitality during his visit to Wuhan and it was then that he decided to return the hospitality to the Chinese leader in India. During his meet with the Chinese President, PM Narendra Modi will personally guide him through the famous monuments of Arjuna's Penance, Panch Rathas and the Shore Temple.
Other than this, Prime Minister Modi will also showcase Chinese coins that were earlier unearthed in Mamallapuram by archaeologists.
There is no structured agenda on the table and the two leaders along with their advisers will discuss serious issues that affect both the region in particular and the world at large.
Trade and security appear to be on top of the agenda. One should hope that the two big powers of Asia, representing nearly two-thirds of humanity, will come to a mutually beneficial understanding.