After Kyoto and Varanasi sister cities now is the turn for Ahmedabad and Guangzhou
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state, Gujarat, is set to become the sister province of one of China’s most developed Guangdong province and its capital Guangzhou the sister city of Ahmedabad, after the two sides ink a pact this week during Chinese President’s India visit. The pacts are expected to be signed during Xi Jinping’s visit to Ahmedabad on September 17, coinciding with Modi’s 64th birthday.
Guangdong is China’s richest province posting the highest GDP growth compared to all Chinese provinces, since 1989. It is where Chinese reformist leader Deng Xiaoping launched his famous SEZ pilot project at Shenzhen which became China’s biggest business and industrial hub.
With a population of over 100 million, Guangdong raked in a GDP of USD 1.5 trillion last year with per capita income of over USD 9,500. Gujarat is also widely regarded as one of India’s richest and most developed states. The agreements could leverage a lot of direct investment opportunities facilitating direct interaction between the two. Similarly, the sister city agreements between Guangzhou and Ahmedabad may enable both provincial capital cities to explore direct investment opportunities and joint development programmes besides cultural interaction, officials said.
It’s likely to be something similar to the pact signed between Japanese city Kyoto and Modi’s constituency Varanasi during his recent visit to Japan. The agreements were expected to be signed at a ceremony on the banks of Sabarmati river and would be attended by both Xi and Modi. For Modi, it was a coup of sorts to get Xi to begin his maiden visit to India from Gujarat as the Chinese President initially toyed the idea to visit Kochi in Kerala instead.
The cancellation of Xi’s visit to Pakistan also enabled him to rework his programme. He is currently visiting Maldives from there he would go to Sri Lanka and then come to India. Chinese officials explored the Kochi option as it showcased famous Chinese navigator Zheng He’s travels to the state in 14th century. Kochi houses the unique Chinese fishing nets, which remained a major travel attraction. In July this year, some Chinese officials even visited Kochi to discuss plans for Xi’s visit to the city. Xi also considered a visit to Kerala as part of his vision to develop the strategic 21st century Maritime Silk Road (MSR) to recreate the epic voyage undertaken by Zheng He. China has invited India to be part of the MSR.
Xi also wanted to visit Gujarat to see the development under Modi’s stewardship as Chief Minister of the state. Modi visited China several times during his tenures as Chief Minister and successfully courted Chinese investments. The September 8 visit of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval here and his meeting with Xi clinched Xi’s visit to Gujarat, officials said.
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