With love, from China! President Xi Jinping’s gift to PM Narendra Modi is symbolic of ancient Chinese civilisation

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New Delhi | Updated: May 1, 2018 11:22:02 AM

Exchange of gifts between state heads and premiers often grabs eyeballs due to its sheer diplomatic significance. And when such matters relate to the likes of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the attention is bound to be significant

NARENDRA MODI WITH CHINA PRESIDENT XI JINPINGNotably, PM Modi-President Jinping had started the summit talks at this museum and Xi took Modi around introducing the historic artifacts. (Image courtesy @MEAIndia Twitter)

Exchange of gifts between state heads and premiers often grabs eyeballs due to its sheer diplomatic significance. And when such matters relate to the likes of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the attention is bound to be significant. Anticipation was already high when the two leaders met last week for an ‘informal summit’ and ‘one-on-one’ meeting. PM Modi’s visit gained significance especially since it came after the Doklam crisis and a year ahead of the general elections in India.

At the one-to-one meeting between the two leaders, PM Modi received a surprise gift from Jinping. The gift was the replica of a 2,400-year-old musical chime. The musical instrument is known as ‘Bianzhong’ in Chinese and is a symbol of ancient Chinese civilisation.

The chimes were found in 1978. Generally, these chimes are played during reception of diplomatic guests, official banquets at the Hubei provincial museum. Notably, PM Modi-President Jinping had started the summit talks at this museum and Xi took Modi around introducing the historic artifacts. It has been learnt that PM Modi and Xi had played the chimes. UNESCO holds the chimes in high regard and sees it as a “sign of notable status, the expression of rites, and the symbol of the power of the country”.

PM Modi had also a few gifts for the Chinese President. These were specially-made prints of paintings by legendary Chinese painter Xu Beihong. Beihong had spent time in Santiniketan, the place which resonates the vision of India’s first Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore.

When Jinping had visited Sabarmati ashram of Mahatma Gandhi in Ahmedabad in September last, PM Modi gifted him a copy of the Gita written in the Chinese language. PM Modi had also presented mementos, including books and a painting on Gandhi, to Xi on the occasion.

Apart from that, the Sabarmati Ashram Trust presented a replica of the charkha, originally used by Gandhi during his stay in Yervada jail near Pune. Xi was also given a copy of the original certificate, given to Gandhi by the people of Chinese origin in South Africa in 1915, according to reports.

PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had last week held “extensive and fruitful” meetings during an unprecedented two-day informal summit to “solidify” the India-China relationship and exchanged views on how the two countries can work together for the benefit of their people and the world. The ‘heart-to-heart’ summit in Wuhan – the favourite holiday spot of revolutionary Chinese leader Mao Zedong – was seen as an effort by India and China to rebuild trust and improve ties that were hit by the Doklam standoff last year.

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