Beijing, China (BBN)-China’s President Xi Jinping has begun his first official visit to India, with a focus on improving trade ties and resolving the decades-old dispute over border areas.
China is one of India’s top trading partners and the Asian neighbours are the world’s most populous countries, reports BBC.
The two countries disagree over the demarcation of several Himalayan border areas and fought a brief war in 1962.
Tensions over the issue still flare up from time to time.
Beijing and Delhi have held numerous rounds of border talks, but all have been unsuccessful so far.
Xi’s visit comes amid unconfirmed reports in the Indian media of a new face-off on the border.
The reports said that Indian troops had spotted their Chinese counterparts trying to construct a temporary road into the Indian territory across the Line of Actual Control (the de facto boundary) in the Ladakh region.
Ties between the two countries have received a boost under the new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has pledged to revitalise the economy and deepen ties with China during his term of office.
In July, the two leaders met on the sidelines of the sixth Brics summit in Brazil and stressed the need to boost bilateral relations.
Xi began his three-day visit in the western state of Gujarat, where he will attend a banquet in the evening to be hosted by Modi. The reception coincides with Modi’s 64th birthday.
Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat for over a decade before leading his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a landslide win in the May general election and becoming prime minister.
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.
Xi will travel to Delhi on Thursday, and is expected to hold talks with Modi focussing on trade, infrastructure and border disputes.
Indian policemen stand next to a welcome hoarding being erected ahead of an anticipated visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping as they review security arrangements in Ahmadabad, India, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014
Although trade between India and China has reached close to $70bn (£43bn), India’s trade deficit has climbed to over $40bn from $1bn in 2001-2002, according to official Indian figures.
Indian media reports said that China could pledge billions of dollars to India’s creaky railway, manufacturing and infrastructure projects during Xi’s visit.
Earlier this month, Modi’s five-day trip to Japan was seen as an attempt by the two democracies to balance the rising weight of China across Asia.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged to raise public and private investment and financing from Japan to $33.6bn within five years, and Delhi and Tokyo set a target to double Japan’s direct investment in India in that period from some $2bn last year.
Correspondents say Xi is expected to pledge investments matching or exceeding Japan’s – a sign, they say, of how Modi has been able to leverage the rivalry between China and Japan to maximise gains for India.
“China, I think, is conscious that we have a good equation with Japan,” Jayadev Ranade of the Delhi-based think-tank Centre for China Analysis and Strategy told the Associated Press news agency.
BBN/ANS-17Sept14-6:30pm (BST)