PM Modi Xi Jinping attend 2-day ‘informal summit’ in China’s Wuhan

New Delhi/Wuhan:MNN: Attend series of private meetings aimed to reset ties between PM Modi Xi Jinping after rough year.

Concludes with key message that dialogue at highest level should go on.

The six meetings between PM Modi, Xi Jinping had all the trappings of what the Chinese call Tǎng zài hóng dìtǎn shàng – laying on the red carpet.

And the carpet was thick; covering every minor detail – even combining Modi’s likings of ‘chai pe charcha’ and ‘boat pe charcha’.

If Xi received Modi in Wuhan and broke protocol in guiding him personally, Modi had done the same at Ahmedabad when Xi visited India.

Both leaders stressed the need to work for peace and development.

As you know both countries constitute 40 percent of world population.

The India-China bilateral relationship cannot be held hostage to the differences that exist at various levels.

The dialogue at the highest levels between the political leadership of both sides can never end – this was the key message at the end of the two-day informal summit between PM Modi Xi Jinping in Wuhan.

Xi conveyed China can become India’s growth engine and Modi invited Xi to India for similar ‘informal meeting’ next year.

The two-day informal meet was also an opportunity for the two leaders to gauge each other at a personal level – sincerity, malleability, inhibitions and the like.

Also readIndia to host next ‘informal summit’ in 2019, to defrost the icy relationship between India-China

It may be recalled that Xi had coincided his visit to India in 2014 with a PLA intrusion in Ladakh (similar to PLA intrusion during PM Li Keqiang’s India visit in 2013).

PM Modi had told him that even small incidents like this can impact biggest of relationships.

China realises it is not that India is no pushover now, it was so even before whenever there.

Besides, it was political will – Nathu La and Sumdorong Chhu incidents being examples.

Today, the two leaders walked along the banks of East Lake and also took a boat ride together as they decided to step up their personal rapport to add heft at the highest levels to try and fix a relationship that reached its lowest ebb last year during the 73-day military standoff in Doklam.

Significantly, the militaries of both countries will be instructed to lower tensions that exist along the contentious boundary between the two countries.

Prime Minister Modi and President Xi “issued strategic guidance to their respective militaries to strengthen communication in order to build trust and mutual understanding.

Also enhance predictability and effectiveness in the management of border affairs,” said Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale.

Both sides have agreed to set up a joint economic project in Afghanistan, an area of immense interest to not just New Delhi and Beijing, but also to Islamabad, China’s biggest ally in Asia.

Details of this project have not been shared so far.

There were six rounds of meetings between PM Modi and Mr Xi, both at the level of bilateral delegations and one-on-one meetings, where the two leaders were accompanied by only their interpreters.

“Prime Minister Modi and President Xi reviewed developments in India-China relations from the strategic and long-term perspective” said the Foreign Secretary.

He also added that both countries have “agreed to significantly enhance efforts to build on the convergences through the established mechanisms in order to create the broadest possible platform for the future relationship.”

In ‘reset’ of India-China relations, one certain fallout is in bilateral trade and commerce and Chinese FDI in India.

Chinese FDI in India was a paltry $1.16 billion, compared to some $255 billion in Europe, not counting the BRI.

India can also perhaps learn from the opening of China’s onshore bond market.

China is also very focused in political and economic warfare, one example being, having captured 40 percent stakes in Karachi Stock Exchange, it is now targeting the Dhaka Stock Exchange.

Chinese FDI in India has plenty of potential to grow, but how this will pan out without hurting India’s security and economic interests will require deft handling.

Given the military’s iron-grip in Pakistan and obsession over Kashmir,

India-Pakistan peace will remain a misnomer.

By design, China has become party to the Kashmir issue and uses Pakistan to stab India, similar to her talking peace with Afghanistan but supporting Taliban.

The prospect of joint India-China economic project in Afghanistan is no snub to Pakistan as is being portrayed by some TV channels.

In no way does it change the China-Pakistan and the China-Pakistan-Taliban equation, where China-Russia-Pakistan-Iran are pitted against the West in the ‘Great Game’ Afghanistan.

Declarations for cooperation in counter-terrorism (like at the last BRICS summit) or during Modi-Xi discussions at Wuhan mean little unless China aligns her actions on ground with words.

China would like to wean India away from the West and join the BRI

The BRI’s global spread makes it susceptible to disruptions; any disruption, sub-conventional levels included, implies internal suffocation.

That is why China’s Global Times keeps repeating India should join CPEC that passes through unstable regions.

On the eve of Modi-Xi informal meet, Chinese media did not visualise a strategic shift by India but only a tactical shift, which anyway is the Dragon’s style also.

The promise to discuss the border issue is nothing new.

It has been going on for ages. Course correction in Sino-Indian relations are very much needed, but while Modi has provided the platform through the ‘informal meet’, the ball is very much in Xi’s court.

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