Xi will drive past ‘Zhou En­lai ma­ter­nity home’

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Na­tion -

The quiet life­style of the lo­cal pop­u­la­tion has been chal­lenged these days as se­cu­rity bar­ri­cades have mush­roomed and zigzag po­lice check­points, a la New Delhi, have made their ap­pear­ance here. Se­cu­rity cam­eras dot the me­dian of the East Coast Road that Xi will drive on to reach Ma­mal­la­pu­ram.

Over the next cou­ple of days, PM Modi and Xi will get some time to them­selves, though not as much as was ini­tially an­tic­i­pated. Xi touches down in Chen­nai around lunchtime and will un­der­take an hour-long drive to this seashore town around 4pm. He will be re­ceived by the Tamil Nadu CM and the gov­er­nor in Chen­nai, lo­cal of­fi­cials said.

Amid the dy­ing sun — just as well, be­cause this place is still very hot — Modi will guide Xi through the fa­mous mon­u­ments of Ar­juna’s Pe­nance, Panch Rathas and the Shore Tem­ple be­fore they set­tle down to watch a Kalak­shetra per­for­mance of Bharat­natyam. In a spe­cial ges­ture, Modi and Xi will have din­ner in the Shore Tem­ple. Ma­mal­la­pu­ram has long con­nec­tions with China and in some parts, ar­chae­o­log­i­cal ex­ca­va­tions have re­vealed the pres­ence of Chi­nese coins.

Xi will re­turn to his ho­tel in Chen­nai af­ter din­ner, and come back to Ma­mal­la­pu­ram the next morn­ing. He and Modi will have just about an­other hour to them­selves be­fore they are joined by their del­e­ga­tions — S Jais­hankar and Ajit Do­val on the In­dian side and Wang Yi and Yang Jiechi on the Chi­nese side. Af­ter lunch, Xi will re­turn to the air­port to fly off to Nepal for the rest of the day.

En route to Ma­mal­la­pu­ram, Xi will en­counter nu­mer­ous shops en­gaged in exquisite stone carv­ings. There is a tiny vil­lage, Kuzhipan­thandalam, which has played its role in In­dia-China re­la­tions. On De­cem­ber 6, 1956, the then Chi­nese Premier Zhou En­lai drove through the vil­lage,



A stu­dent wears a Xi Jin­ping mask in Chen­nai on Thurs­day

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