Vannakkam”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping and his delegation in Tamil which he described as the oldest language in the world.

“Tamil Nadu state and the historic city of Chennai have for centuries been a witness to the economic and cultural exchanges with China,” PM Modi said in his opening remarks ahead of the delegation-level talks.

The prime minister linked the new phase of India-China relations from the “Wuhan Spirit” to the “Chennai Connect”.

In fact, to mark the 70th anniversary of India-China relations, the two countries also decided to organise a conference on a ship voyage that will trace the historical connection between the two civilisations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping appreciated PM Narendra Modi’s idea of an informal summit as an important opportunity to deepen dialogue and promote mutual understanding at the leadership level.

Seeking to widen economic cooperation with China, PM Modi said, “For a major part of past 2,000 years, India and China were among major economic powers in the world and in the 21st century, both the countries were on the same economic path once again.”

India emphasised that Tamil Nadu had historic trade and cultural ties with Fujian province in China where incidentally, President Xi Jinping was once a governor.

Quanzhou, a prominent port city in Fujian had recently unearthed evidence of trade links with Mahabalipuram, dating back perhaps to the 7th century.

“They both [Modi and Xi] referred to Quanzhou where recently Tamil inscriptions and fragments of architecture reflecting a possible temple built by Tamil traders in the 12th century were discovered,” Vijay Gokhale, foreign secretary, said.