NEW DELHI, May 13: The shared legacy of Buddhism is a strong link that will run through the Chi, Mongolia and South Korea visits of Prime Minister rendra Modi as he embarks on his three-tion tour April 14-19, a journey that is set to see a number of agreements with each country and key talks with Beijing on the border issue, trade imbalance and economic cooperation.
Modi, who leaves Wednesday night, will be in Chi May 14-16. His first stop will be in Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi province and the hometown of President Xi Jinping. The two leaders are to hold their summit meeting in Xi’an, which is also associated with Chinese traveler and famous Buddhist scholar Xuan Zang or Hieun Tsang who travelled extensively in India in 629 to 645 AD.
The decision to welcome Modi in Xi’an is a reciprocal gesture in keeping with the Indian prime minister’s move to welcome Xi in his tive Ahmedabad, Gujarat, in September last year. During his Ahmedabad visit, Xi was taken around a photo exhibition highlighting the Buddhist links of Vadgar, Modi’s hometown, and the fact that Hieun Tsang also visited the place in 641 AD, besides other Buddhist sites in Gujarat.
Accompanied by President Xi, Modi is to visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an, built by the Chinese emperor Gao Zong in 652 AD at the request of Hieun Tsang. He will also visit other places associated with Buddhism and Chinese history and civilization in Xi’an. He will spend May 15 in Beijing, during which he will hold talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and a number of agreements are slated to be inked.
During talks with Xi and Li, the festering border question is expected to figure, especially in the wake of the state-run Global Times running an article, which says that Modi is “playing little tricks” over the border dispute and security issues. Around two weeks ago, Modi joined the hugely popular Chinese website Sei Weibo, Chi’s adaptation of Twitter, to announce his visit. While he got thousands of followers and many ‘likes’, there were many who highlighted that Aruchal Pradesh, which they refer to as Zangn or South Tibet, should be given to Chi.
On May 17, Modi will be in Mongolia, in the first visit by an Indian prime minister. The visit will also have a strong Buddhism link. He will visit the Gandan Mostery in capital Ulan Bator where he will present a sapling of the revered Mahabodhi tree to the chief abbot of the mostery.
In South Korea, on May 18-19, Modi will hold talks with President Park Geun-hye, whom he has met earlier in November on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit and the ASEAN. Both sides would ink a number of agreements including on Double Taxation Avoidance, plus for cooperation in shipping and logistics, transport, highways, and in new energy industries. Though there is no Buddhism event that Modi will attend, the country has strong links to Buddhism.