By Elton Gomes
On April 26, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he would visit China for an “informal summit” with Chinese president Xi Jinping. Modi and Xi are slated discuss Indo-China ties, while taking a walk alongside the banks of a lake, followed by a boat ride.
Top Indian officials claim that the only agenda for the informal meet is to foster trust between the two nations. Yang Jiechi, a former special representative of India-China border talks, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and the Chinese Ambassador to India, Luo Zhaohui, will also be present at the summit.
From the Indian side, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, and Indian Ambassador to China, Gautam Bambawale, will be attending the Wuhan summit, Hindustan Times reported.
President Xi appeared to be upbeat about the upcoming meeting with the Indian prime minister, and said that India and China have “seen its history progressing along river banks.”
— News18 (@CNNnews18) April 27, 2018
The two leaders witnessed a cultural performance at the Hubei Provincial Museum, before they proceeded to the informal summit at the East Lake guesthouse in Wuhan.
Modi arrived early on Friday, and looked to improve Indo-China relations in the aftermath of the Doklam standoff.
A spokesperson from China’s defence ministry told ANI: “Stabilising military relations between China and India and maintaining peace in the border areas are the shared aspirations of people from both countries.”
Here’s what happened
ANI reported that Modi and Xi were expected to discuss issues of bilateral interests. However, it is unclear whether the talks will touch upon China’s hesitancy to designate Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, and the ongoing Doklam stand-off.
Prior to his departure, Modi told the press: “We will also discuss our respective visions and priorities for national development, in the context of current and future international situations.”
Modi and Xi are expected to tour a museum, participate in a boat ride on a lake, and take a walk around a park, while discussing a host of several issues, according to a report by Hindustan Times.
Following a one-on-one meeting, Modi and Xi are expected to attend two rounds of delegation-level talks with six representatives from India and China. President Xi will then host a dinner at the Lake Guest House, a palatial complex, in central Wuhan, NDTV reported.
While speaking to Xi, Modi reminisced about his days as Chief Minister of Gujarat, explaining how he had visited Wuhan during his tenor then, to take comprehensive notes on the Three Gorges dam.
When I was the CM of Gujarat, I had the opportunity to visit Wuhan. I had heard a lot about the Three Gorges Dam. The speed with which you constructed it and the scale inspired me. So I came on a study tour, spent a day at the dam: PM Modi to President Xi Jinping pic.twitter.com/1eb8Uxr2hH
— ANI (@ANI) April 27, 2018
NDTV reported that on Saturday, Modi and Xi were expected to spend more time in a one-on-one session, with only their interpreters accompanying them.
A report by Business Standard mentioned that the two leaders were likely to discuss a host of issues ranging from US President Donald Trump’s trade policies, protectionism, and globalisation. Modi and Xi could also reportedly discuss China’s Belt and Road project, as Modi attempts to thaw the current icy relations between the two nations.
Why you should care
Indian and Chinese diplomats have not revealed much about what the outcome of the summit might truly help achieve. However, some speculate about the possibility of there being some positives outcome, especially after India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met her Chinese counterpart, General Wei Fenghe, in Beijing. The meeting could perhaps lead to future bilateral military to military engagement between India and China, as well as lay out a path for future defence engagement.
With the informal summit in place, Modi has a chance to discuss with Xi, his plans for infrastructure and development—this is where China’s support can be immensely helpful, given its considerable experience and advancement in the sector.
Although India has refused to support China’s Belt and Road initiative, president Xi may likely attempt to urge Modi to rethink the decision. However, this might not come easy for Xi, as Modi might seek a lockdown on China’s ally, Pakistan.
It remains to be seen whether the summit will aid either nations, and help improve the tenuous relations between India and China.
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