NEW DELHI: After the entire subcontinent came calling, the rest of the world has started dialling India’s number with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang calling up Prime Minister Narendra Modi to say congratulations, even as Beijing has decided to send its Foreign Minister to engage with the new government.
Both the leaders agreed to increase high-level exchanges and communication. While Chinese Foreign Minister is arriving next month, Modi also invited Chinese President Xi Jinping to travel to New Delhi this year.
While Modi had already spoken to several world leaders after getting elected, protocol-conscious China had been waiting till the formal takeover to go on a charm offensive.
A press release issued by the Centre stated that the phone call to Modi from Premier Li was “latter’s initiative”. Congratulating Modi on his electoral victory, Li conveyed “Chinese Government’s desire to establish robust partnership with the new government of India for further development of relations between the two nations.”
Thanking the Chinese leader, Modi said that the China was “always a priority in India’s foreign policy”.
He underlined his “government’s resolve to utilise the full potential of our Strategic and Cooperative Partnership with China and his keenness to work closely with the Chinese leadership to deal with any outstanding issues in our bilateral relations by proceeding from the strategic perspective of our developmental goals and long-term benefits to our people”. Modi also welcomed “greater economic engagement between the two countries”. “The two leaders agreed to maintain high-level exchanges and communication. Prime Minister Modi extended through Premier Li an invitation to President Xi Jinping to pay a visit to India later this year,” the press release said.
Modi is known to have a soft corner towards China, having admired of the rapid economic rise of the Beijing. China, along with Japan, Singapore and Israel were the only countries that Modi visited as Gujarat CM when he was pariah to the western countries over the 2002 riots. Modi has been a proponent to increase economic engagement between the two Asian giants.
And Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit India on June 8. Wang’s visit will be the first standalone bilateral visit to India after the Saarc leaders were in Delhi for Modi’s swearing-in ceremony. State Councillor Yang Jiechi conveyed China’s interest to engage with the Modi Government when he had met Indian Ambassador to China Ashok Kantha on Tuesday. The “outstanding issues” are not just the dispute over the long 3400-kilometre Himalayan border, but also ways to narrow the $40 billion trade deficit that India has with China.