Beijing: A leading Chinese daily Thursday praised the "less formal itinerary" of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad Wednesday, calling it an exceptional departure from tradition with potential to set a positive tone for Sino-Indian ties.
Xi began his three-day visit to India Wednesday from Ahmedabad in Gujarat amid relaxed protocol procedures, as Modi flew to the Gujarat capital to receive and be with the Chinese president. It was the first time that agreements were signed by a visiting foreign dignitary outside the capital, China Daily said in a report.
After a meeting shortly after Xi's arrival, the two leaders visited Sabarmati Ashram, home of Mahatma Gandhi. They then took a stroll at Sabarmati Riverfront Park before celebrating Modi's 64th birthday, and had a dinner in a riverside tent.
Xi was also invited by Modi to sit on the ground and try his hand at Mahatma Gandhi's charkha on which he would spin cotton to signify the self-reliance of Indians, the report said.
The preparations showed the importance that Modi attached to the ties and the buildup of his personal relationship with Xi, the daily quoted Jiang Jingkui, director of the Centre of South Asian Studies at Peking University, as saying.
"Modi also made clear his determination to continue learning from the Chinese development experience and to make good on his election promise of reviving India's flagging economy and creating jobs," Jiang said.
The Chinese scholar also recalled how Modi came to China on a number of occasions as state chief to lure investors to Gujarat, "whose powerhouse role for India will be strengthened by the agreements signed Wednesday".
China is India's largest trade partner, with bilateral trade reaching $65.5 billion in 2013.