Ahmedabad: India and China today signed three Gujarat specific pacts shortly after Chinese President Xi Jinping commenced his three-day visit to the country from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state.
State authorities rolled out the red carpet as Mr Jinping, the first Chinese leader to visit Gujarat, was given a warm welcome after an Air China special aircraft carrying him and his delegation landed at the airport. Giant billboards in Mandarin, Gujarati and English were put up at various places here to welcome him.
Xi's three-day visit is aimed at ramping up trade and investments, besides having discussions on substantive issues including the contentious border dispute. It also coincides with PM Modi's 64th birthday.
The three pacts were signed in the presence of PM Modi and Xi after the Chinese leader and his wife Peng Liyuan, dressed in a pale pink knee-length dress, were welcomed by the Prime Minister at the entrance of the Hyatt Hotel. PM Modi gave floral bouquets to the couple.
The choice of Gujarat as Xi's first stop in India marks a departure from protocol and many see it as a sign of warm relations between the two leaders. When the couple landed at the Ahmedabad airport, apart from a guard of honour, there was a traditional Gujarati dance.
The three pacts include making Guangzhou city in China and Ahmedabad as sister cities, setting up of industrial parks in this state and an agreement between Guangdong province and the Gujarat government for development of cultural and social ties between the two provinces, officials said.
The agreement, aimed at developing industrial parks, was signed between China Development Bank (CDB) and Industrial Extension Bureau (iNDEXTb) of Gujarat Government. It envisages promoting the bilateral trade and setting up of industrial parks in the state, especially for electronics and electrical goods.
While an agreement was signed between Guangdong province and Gujarat government for development of cultural and social ties between the two provinces, another MoU was inked between Guangzhou city and Ahmedabad, to make them sister cities. These MoUs will facilitate exchange of ideas and services between Gujarat and China, officials said.
Besides PM Modi and Mr Jinping, Chief Minister Anandi Patel and her Cabinet colleagues, members of Chinese delegation and several top businessmen from the state were present at the event.
PM Modi also accompanied Mr Jinping to the tranquil Sabarmati Ashram on Ahmedabad's Ashram road and explained its historical significance to the Chinese President.
They later took a walk down the Sabarmati riverfront which was a riot of colour with the visiting dignitaries treated to a mix of Gujarati tradition and culture through dance forms including the famous garba dance.