Tamil Nadu is gearing up for Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Chennai and Mahabalipuram to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the second Informal summit on October 11 and 12. And while the Ministry of External Affairs has officially maintained that the meet is to discuss overarching issues of bilateral importance, sources tell TNM that the discussion will be preceded by a day of cultural programmes and sightseeing at Mahabalipuram.
The MEA's official press release says that the forthcoming summit is seen largely as an opportunity for the two leaders to continue discussions on issues of regional and global importance and to deepen the India-China development partnership. However, the agenda set for the Chinese President however, as per sources, is not strictly business alone.
Xi Jinping is expected to arrive in Chennai at 1.20 pm on Friday, following which he will witness a dance and music performance at the airport itself. He will be staying at the ITC Grand Chola hotel and the 55-kilometre travel to Mahabalipuram will be by road. At the tourist destination, he is expected to visit Arjuna's penance, a 43-feet monolith that is said to depict an extract from the Mahabharata. It is the tale of how one of the Pandavas, Arjuna, received Lord Shiva's weapon through penance. The Chinese President will then be taken to the Shore temple.
The Prime Minister and Chinese President will then witness a 'cultural evening' before retiring for dinner.
It is on October 12, Saturday, that the two leaders are expected to hold bilateral discussions, following which the Chinese President will leave India after lunch.
Monuments have been closed to the public on the two days and security has been increased in the temple town. 500 police personnel have been deployed in the 20 km stretch between Mahabalipuram and Akkarai. Two deputy superintendents of police (DSPs), six inspectors, and 500 police personnel have been deployed across Mamallapuram in different shifts, including night patrolling. CCTV cameras have been installed across the town as well as on the outskirts for round-the-clock surveillance.
On Sunday, the state police arrested Tibetan activist and writer Tenzin Tsundue and nine other activists who had reportedly planned a protest during Premier Xi's visit, calling for the independence of the region under the Chinese state.