PM Modi and Xi Jinping channel Wuhan in Tamil Nadu
China’s backing for Pakistan on Kashmir cast a shadow on preparations for the second unstructured meeting between the two leaders, but no such strains were visible.Updated: Oct 12, 2019 03:49 IST
There was no evidence of the recent strain in the India-China relationship in the numerous handshakes and easy smiles shared by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping as they made their way around a 1,400-year-old temple complex at the start of their second informal summit on Friday.
Modi, clad in a white shirt, veshti and angavastram, received Xi after he drove in a motorcade from Chennai to the seaside resort, a distance of some 55km, and the two leaders, accompanied only by translators, made their way around several monuments at the World Heritage Site.
Over the past few days, China’s backing for Pakistan on the Kashmir issue cast a shadow on preparations for the second unstructured meeting between the two leaders, who are expected to spend nearly six hours in each other’s company on Friday and Saturday. But no strain was visible in their interactions, beamed by state-run Doordarshan using more than 50 cameras placed all over the temple complex.
Modi led Xi, who was wearing a white shirt and dark trousers, to Arjuna’s Penance, which has a 36-foot high and 75-foot wide panel with 154 figures, and took him around the temple carved out of solid rock. The leaders shook hands several times, and at one point, Modi held aloft Xi’s hand for the battery of photographers.
After walking to Krishna’s Butterball, a 20-foot tall granite boulder weighing 250 tonne perched precariously on a rocky slope, the leaders posed for more photographs before driving a short distance to the Panch Ratha, five chariots carved out of rock to represent the five Pandava brothers from the Mahabharata. In the soft glow of the setting sun, the leaders then sat before the stone chariots and sipped coconut water as they chatted for almost 15 minutes.
The last stop of their guided tour was the 7th century Shore Temple, and the leaders walked along the seashore, again shaking hands for the photographers, before taking a round of the shrine. At all the places, Modi was seen telling Xi about the history and significance of the structures and the numerous statues.
The two leaders then met the members of their respective delegations before sitting down to watch a 20-minute cultural programme by a troupe from Kalakshetra Foundation, which included “Alarippu” or a dance symbolising respect to a teacher and the audience, “Purappadu” or the initial part of a Kathakali performance, “Sethubanhanam” or an excerpt from a dance drama based on Ramayana, a dance set to the bhajan Bhajo re Bhaiyya Ram Govind Hari and “Tillana”, a dance symbolising peace and harmony.
Modi was seen keeping the beat with his fingers as he continued chatting with Xi.
People familiar with developments said Modi presented Xi two gifts – a branched Annam lamp of gold-coated bronze made by eight master craftsmen from the Poompuhar Lamp Production Center at Nachiarkoil in Tamil Nadu, and a Thanjavur painting on wood of dancing Hindu goddess Saraswathi by B Loganathan, a state award winner.
The six-foot lamp weighs 108 kg and took 12 days to make. It features the Annam, a celestial bird, has 24 bowls with 120 spouts for placing wicks and is considered to be auspicious. The intricate painting is three feet high and four feet wide, weighs about 40kg and took 45 days to create.
The first day of the informal summit was capped by a private dinner hosted by Modi in a large tent within the Shore Temple complex. The fare included vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes representing Tamil cuisine and Modi and Xi were seated at a table with their interpreters while their aides – including external affairs minister S Jaishankar, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale, India’s ambassador to China Vikram Misri, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, Chinese NSA Yang Jeichi and vice foreign minister Luo Zhaohui – were seated nearby.
First Published: Oct 11, 2019 23:25 IST