Modi is expected to make a high-profile visit in Beijing in the next few months following up on September trip of President Xi to India during which the two countries signed several agreements including setting up of two industrial parks in India with USD 20 billion Chinese investment besides cooperation to modernise Indian railways.
    
He is expected to formally inaugurate a new route for the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra through Nathu La in Sikkim which would for the first time enable Indian pilgrims to travel to highly popular religious places by buses without undertaking an arduous journey by trekking or on mules.

Indian Ambassador to China Ashok K Kantha accompanied by top Chinese officials has already made a tour of Tibet to finalise the arrangements before Prime Minister's visit here.     

This year has ended on a positive note with an Indian railways team holding comprehensive talks with Chinese counterparts on conducting a feasibility study of the high speed rail line between Delhi and Chennai besides track up-gradation.

India currently is considering two corridors for high speed trains. While Japan is conducting a feasibility study for the bullet train project on the Mumbai-Ahmadabad corridor, China will do the same for the Delhi-Chennai route which is expected to begin by early next year.

If it materialises, the Indian bullet train project is a major gain for China which is making an aggressive pitch to market its high speed train technology outside the country.     

Besides the high speed train, India and China have agreed to cooperate to identify the technical inputs required to increase speeds on the existing railway line from Chennai to Mysore via Bangalore.

All these projects are expected to take shape during Modi's visit, including the operationalisation of the two industrial corridors that China has agreed to set up in Gujarat and Maharashtra with an investment of USD 20 billion.     

India is asking China to step up investments as a measure to address the trade deficit which averages around USD 35 billion a year. Last year the trade volume reached USD 66.47 billion with balance heavily tilted in China's favour.

More importantly, the two sides are preparing to hold the 18th round of boundary talks to be conducted by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, the newly appointed Special Representative for Sino-India border talks, and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi.

The talks are expected to be held in the next few weeks, well ahead of Modi's visit.

Doval succeeded former NSA Shivshankar Menon, who during a visit here this month said all the spade work needed for the resolution of the boundary dispute has been done and the two countries can quickly resolve it as India and China have governments with strong mandates to reach an agreement.     

In view of the public sensitivities involved, the quicker the two sides resolve the dispute the better it is, he said.

Both sides have different perceptions about the boundary. While India asserts that the dispute covers about 4,000 km, China says it is restricted to 2,000 km mainly the Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims as Southern Tibet.

The deadlock over the boundary dispute is related to the demarcation of boundaries in Aksai Chin in the Ladakh sector and Arunachal Pradesh.

During Xi's visit to India, Prime Minister Modi had said "We need to resolve our boundary issue soon. A clarification on the LAC (Line of Actual Control) is very important. It has been pending for years, it is time to start it again."

Despite the bonhomie, Xi's visit was overshadowed by the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in the Chumar region in Ladakh which was finally resolved with simultaneous withdrawal of troops after hectic rounds of talks.

Chinese troops pitched their tents in Chumar and their helicopters were seen dropping food packets for its soldiers.

Tension in the area erupted in September when some Chinese workers, who were constructing a road on their side, crossed into the Indian side and also claimed that they had orders to build a road up to Tible, 5 kms deep inside Indian territory.

Chumar was at the centre of the fortnight-long stand-off last year in Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) as the Chinese side had objected to overhead bunkers erected by the Indian side.     

During winter this year, Chinese soldiers attempted to enter the area on horsebacks. The area has witnessed frequent incursion attempts by Chinese troops.

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