- India and its neighbourhood- relations.
India- China Informal Summit at Mahabalipuram
What to study?
For Prelims: Historical background of Mahabalipuram.
For Mains: Informal and formal summits- need for and significance, overview Of India- China relations.
Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in the ancient coastal town of Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu for a second Informal Summit.
The two countries convened their first Informal Summit in central China’s Wuhan in April 2018, where they exchanged views on issues of global and bilateral significance.
- To celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations the two countries will organise 70 activities including a conference on a ship voyage that will trace the historical connection between the two civilisations.
- A high- level economic and trade dialogue mechanism will be established with the objective of achieving enhanced trade and commercial relations.
- Mutual investments in identified sectors will be encouraged through the development of a manufacturing partnership.
- Sister- state relations will be established between Tamil Nadu and Fujian Province.
What are Informal Summits?
- They act as supplementary exchanges to annual Summits and other formal exchanges such as the G20 Summit, EU-India Summit and the BRICS Summit among others.
- They allow for “direct, free and candid exchange of views” between countries, something that may not be possible to do through formal bilateral and multilateral meetings that are agenda driven, where specific issues are discussed, and outcomes are more concretely defined.
- They are impromptu in the sense that they take place when a need for them is perceived by the concerned nations.
The story of Mahabalipuram’s China connection:
- Mahabalipuram, or Mamallapuram, 56 km south of Chennai on the Tamil Nadu coast had ancient links with Buddhism and China through the maritime outreach of the Pallava dynasty.
- The name Mamallapuram derives from Mamallan, or “great warrior”, a title by which the Pallava King Narasimhavarman I (630-668 AD) was known. It was during his reign that Hiuen Tsang, the Chinese Buddhist monk-traveller, visited the Pallava capital at Kanchipuram.
- Narasimhavarman II (c.700-728 AD), also known as Rajasimhan, built on the work of earlier Pallava kings to consolidate maritime mercantile links with southeast Asia.
- Narasimhavarman II sent a mission to the Tang court in 720 AD.
- The emissaries of the Pallava king sought the permission of Emperor Xuangzong to fight back Arab and Tibetan intrusions in South Asia.
- Pleased with the Indian king’s offer to form a coalition against the Arabs and Tibetans, the Chinese emperor bestowed the title of ‘huaide jun’ (the Army that Cherishes Virtue) to Narayansimha II’s troops.
- The Descent of the Ganga/Arjuna’s Penance, a rock carving commissioned by Narasimhavarman I, with its depiction of the Bhagirathi flowing from the Himalayas, may serve as a reminder of the geography of India-China relations, and their shared resources.
During the reign of Cholas:
Tamil-Chinese links continued after the Pallavas, flourishing under the Cholas as the Coromandel coast became the entrepot between China and the Middle East. The links extended to a wider area beyond Mahabalipuram, through a layered history that has left a rich tapestry of society, culture, art and architecture, which is diverse and complex, and reaches up to modern times.
The trading missions that the Cholas sent to the Song court included Muslims.
A trader named Abu Qasim was second-in-command of a mission sent in 1015; the next mission, in 1033, included one Abu Adil.
Sources: the Hindu.