Xi to Indian PM: China, India must build mutual trust

BEIJING - Chinese President Xi Jinping told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the two countries should build mutual trust by "controlling their differences" and strengthen co-operation between the two Asian giants.

Xi hosted Modi in his ancestral hometown at the start of Modi's three-day visit to China on Thursday, as the two countries worked to boost economic ties despite decades of mistrust.

"We must work together to enhance mutual trust, control our differences and problems to avoid them interfering with bilateral relations," Xi was quoted as telling Modi, according to a statement late on Thursday on China's foreign ministry's website.

The list of problems the world's two largest countries by population face are considerable, ranging from a festering border dispute to China's support for India's arch-rival Pakistan.

Xi urged Modi to strengthen coordination on global and regional affairs and "work together to promote the international order in a more just and fair direction".

To enhance what he called the "national rejuvenation" of both China and India, Xi urged co-operation in areas including railways, industrial parks, urbanisation and training. He pledged to encourage Chinese companies to invest in India.

"The two sides should follow the historical trend and realise the strategic needs for our national rejuvenation to build a closer partnership for development," Xi told Modi.

Xi's comments are part of a broad push to invoke nationalistic themes to win public support and legitimacy as he seeks to boost China's role as a bigger player in international politics. They also appear aimed at pandering to Modi, who believes in a strong and proud India.

Xi said China was willing to work with India to "promote regional peace, stability and prosperity" in South Asia.

Xi's remarks come as international concern has deepened about China's maritime ambitions in the South China Sea.

China's rapid reclamation effort around seven reefs in the Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea has alarmed other claimants such as the Philippines and Vietnam.

On Friday, Modi met Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing's Great Hall of the People. He will visit the economic powerhouse of Shanghai after that to meet business leaders.