Chennai, Oct 13: The easy rapport between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping, as they continued their private conversation in this seaside resort on Saturday, led to the forging sister state ties between Tamil Nadu and China’s Fujian province.
The two leaders, who held one-on-one talks in the Fisherman’s Cove overlooking the Bay of Bengal, also exchanged gifts after Modi led Xi around a small exhibition of the handicrafts and textiles of Tamil Nadu.
There is historical evidence in both countries of the cultural and trade linkages between Fujian and South India dating back many centuries, including significant maritime contacts. Modi and Xi agreed on establishing sister state relations between Tamil Nadu and Fujian province, exploring the possibility of establishing an academy to study these and conducting research on the maritime links.
This was done as both leaders felt it was important to enhance dialogue to foster cultural understanding between the two peoples. They also decided to designate 2020 as the Year of India-China Cultural and People to People Exchanges and to celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations by organising 70 activities, including a conference on a ship voyage that will trace the historical connect between the two civilisations.
There were other takeaways to boost cultural relations, with Xi pledging greater facilitation for Indian pilgrims going to Kailash Mansarovar, while Modi suggested that China should boost homestays to attract more Indian tourists.
Among the gifts formally handed over to Xi by Modi were a large Nachiarkoil brass lamp adorned with the celestial Annam bird, a hand-woven silk portrait of the Chinese president created by the master weavers of Sri Ramalinga Sowdambigai Handloom Weavers Co-operative Society of Sirumugaipudur, and a Thanjavur painting on wood of the dancing goddess Saraswati.
The silk portrait of Xi was made by using pure mulberry silk and gold threads on a red background, with floral patterns on both sides of the portrait to enhance its beauty. Xi presented Modi a plate featuring the image of the prime minister.
The exhibition at the Fisherman’s Cove showcased handicrafts such as Swamimalai bronze icons, Thanjavur art plates, Mamallapuram stone carvings, Kallakurichi sandalwood carving and Kancheepuram saree weaving.