As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomes Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to his home town state of Gujarat on Wednesday, analysts say the meeting between the leaders of the economic titans will be the most significant in decades.
“This meeting… will be the most significant since Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China in 1988. That visit cooled the rising border tensions between India and China and set the stage for the boom in mutual trade that followed,” Anil Gupta, Michael Dingman Chair in Strategy, Globalization and Entrepreneurship at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, told CNBC.
“Xi’s visit is likely to start transforming the relationship from one largely around trade to one based on both trade and large investments,” he said.
Xi kicks off his three-day visit in Ahmedabad, the commercial capital of Gujarat – the western state that Modi ran for 12 years. Afterwards he will head to New Delhi for a full-fledged bilateral meeting.
The meeting comes amid a backdrop of improving political relations between China and India; however, a long-simmering Himalayan border dispute remains a sticking point.
Both lay claim to territory that the other holds. After two decades of talks they are no closer to resolving the dispute over which they went to war in 1962. A day before Xi’s arrival, India said it would firmly defend its 3,500-kilometer-long border with China after domestic media reported a new face-off on the disputed frontier.