Here's a quick look at the upcoming two-day meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping starting tomorrow.
To be held in Mamallapuram near Chennai, this will be the second informal summit between the two leaders. The first one had taken place in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Why is the summit important?
Well, there are several reasons why this meeting is so keenly watched in India and China, and even Pakistan and other countries.
The summit comes against the backdrop of tensions between India and its not-so-friendly neighbour Pakistan over revocation of the special status of Jammu & Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution.
Chinese President Xi has confirmed that the two-day informal summit is an attempt to provide guidance for bilateral ties between the two neighbours. He told Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday that China was paying "close attention" to the situation in Kashmir and the facts were clear. He also said that he hoped the "relevant parties" could solve the issue through peaceful dialogue.
President Xi assured Khan that the friendship between China and Pakistan was "unbreakable and rock-solid" despite changes in the international and regional situation.
Besides, after confirming Xi's visit to India, Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Lou Zhaohui addressed a special media briefing in Beijing, where he said the Xi-Modi meeting would provide guidance for bilateral ties and devise a shared role in regional affairs, unlike their previous meeting which drew little personal commitment from the two leaders.
What is India looking to achieve from the Xi-Modi meet?
PM Modi would likely seek favourable terms for India's exports to China. Though China continues to ramp up its global imports, it has a massive trade deficit with India. And that remains a major policy concern for India.
Okay, but why was Mamallapuram chosen for this meet?
That is another interesting aspect. PM Modi chose Mamallapuram, located on the East Coast Road near Chennai instead of New Delhi, which is the usual venue for such high-level meetings.
This was for various reasons — historical, practical, as well as strategic. Mamallapuram, also known as Mahabalipuram, gets its name from the word "Mamallan", which means ‘great warrior’. After the decline of the Gupta Dynasty, the Pallavas rose to power in South India, ruling from the third century until the end of the 9th century AD. The best period of their rule, between 650 and 750 AD, was called the Golden Age of the Pallavas, who were believed to be profound thinkers, and very powerful.
The city has been a point of interest to archaeologists and other scientists all these years. In 2004, when the Indian Ocean tsunami hit the coast, several new scriptures and evidences of the ancient times came out even in the offshore areas of Mamallapuram.
Apart from arts and architecture, the Pallavas dynasty — particularly the great king Narasimhavarman-I — was known to have been good in trading and building partnerships with other countries. Available literature shows that the Pallava Kings had a trade and defence relationship with China. There was understanding that these kings would help China in keeping a check on the growth of Tibet as a powerful nation during those years.
A lot is expected to happen in the upcoming meeting over the next two days. Stay tuned for more updates!