Xi to give Modi a hometown welcome

Updated: 2015-05-14 02:52

By LI XIAOKUN(China Daily)

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Xi to give Modi a hometown welcome

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the Terracotta warriors in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, May 14, 2015. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicked off his trip to China on Thursday by visiting the Terracotta warriors in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, the hometown of President Xi Jinping.

He will be given the highest-level reception when he arrives on Thursday, with President Xi Jinping accompanying him throughout his stay in Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province. It is very rare for Chinese leaders to accompany foreign guests outside Beijing.

"President Xi invited me to visit his hometown," Modi told his micro-blog followers on Sina Weibo.

Xi's family is from Shaanxi province, and when he visited India in September the trip began with Modi greeting the Chinese president in his home state, Gujarat.

"I expect to visit the famous historic city closely related to Xuanzang," Modi wrote.

Xuanzang was a key figure in Chinese Buddhism who lived during the early years of the Tang Dynasty (AD 617-907). He set off on his arduous trip to India, studied there for 17 years, then brought back many Buddhist sutras and translated them into Chinese.

"Xi'an symbolizes the two countries' cultural exchanges," said Hu Shisheng, director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

"It's apparent the leaders are seeking to deepen their personal ties and highlight the two civilizations' cultural links by making Xi'an the first stop."

Hu said Xi'an, previously known as Chang'an, was a major city at the start of the ancient Silk Road, and the visit is a way for Modi to welcome China's "One Belt, One Road Initiative".

Ashok Kantha, India's ambassador to China, said: "Last year, you all saw how Prime Minister Modi warmly welcomed President Xi. This time you will also see President Xi and Premier Li (Keqiang) welcome Prime Minister Modi in a special way."

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