BEIJING (REUTERS) – Chinese President Xi Jinping told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the two Asian giants should build mutual trust by “controlling their differences” and strengthening cooperation.
Xi hosted Modi in his ancestral hometown at the start of Modi’s three-day visit to China on Thursday, as India and China worked to boost economic ties despite decades of mistrust. “We must work together to enhance mutual trust, control our differences and problems to avoid them interfering with bilateral relations,” Xi was quoted as telling Modi, according to a statement on the website of China’s foreign ministry late on Thursday.
The list of problems the world’s two largest countries by population face are considerable, ranging from a festering border dispute to China’s support for India’s arch-rival, Pakistan. Xi urged Modi to strengthen coordination on global and regional affairs and “work together to promote the international order in a more just and fair direction”.
“The two sides should follow the historical trend and realise the strategic needs for our national rejuvenation to build a closer partnership for development,” Xi told Modi.
Xi’s comments are part of a broad push to invoke nationalistic themes to win public support and legitimacy as he seeks to boost China’s role as a bigger player in international politics.
They also appear to pander to Modi, who believes in a strong and proud India.
The Global Times, an influential tabloid owned by the ruling Chinese Communist party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, took aim at “suspicions from the Western world” about the partnership. “It is obvious that the Western elite doesn’t want to see India and China drawing closer to each other, because it will confront their vision for Asia’s future,” the newspaper said in an editorial.
Xi urged cooperation in areas including railways, industrial parks, urbanisation and training to enhance what he called the“national rejuvenation” of both China and India. He pledged to encourage Chinese companies to invest in India.
He said China was willing to work with India to “promote regional peace, stability and prosperity” in South Asia.
Xi’s remarks come as international concern has deepened about China’s maritime ambitions in the South China Sea.
On Friday, Modi met Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. He will visit the economic powerhouse of Shanghai after that to meet business leaders.