Modi-Xi to chart a new course for India-China ties at Wuhan summit

Beijing, ChinaUpdated: Apr 22, 2018, 06:30 PM IST

The Wuhan summit is aimed at giving an "honest try" by the two leaders to work out an understanding at the top on the future course of relations to navigate through the maze of differences Photograph:(DNA)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold a summit in China's Wuhan city from April 27 to 28 for a "heart-to-heart" chat to explore a new paradigm for India-China ties and find ways to address the contentious issues like the border dispute.

Conceived on the lines of the ice-breaking visit undertaken by late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988 and his far-reaching talks with China's paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, setting a new tone for the relations after the 1962 war, the Xi-Modi dialogue in the central Chinese city of Wuhan was aimed at a working a new paradigm for the bilateral relations for the next 15 years, informed sources told PTI here. 

At the "informal summit" with a few officials and aides at a picturesque location, the two leaders plan to spend several hours exchanging their vision and perspectives about global and domestic scenarios and explore ideas to address the contentious bilateral issues like the border dispute, they said. 

The talks will focus on adhering to the principle that both countries should be sensitive to each other's concerns and aspirations, the sources said.

At the summit, Modi and Xi will try to work out a general framework for relations to move ahead without much of great expectations about the outcome, they said.

It is a leadership-driven summit, providing a leadership driven-direction and a way forward to more stable bilateral ties, the sources said. 

While no major agreements were expected to be reached at the summit, the two leaders will have candid talks on the contentious issues like Xi's pet project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) whose flagship project, the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has become a major stumbling block for the bilateral ties. 

India protested about CPEC as it is being laid through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) disregarding India's sovereignty concerns. 

Last year turned out to be an extremely complex and difficult year for Sino-Indian ties with a host of festering differences like China blocking India's entry into the elite Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as well as attempts to list Jaish-e-Muhammad leader Masood Azhar as a terrorist by the UN. The 73-day standoff at Dokalam also hit bilateral ties.

The Wuhan summit is aimed at giving an "honest try" by the two leaders to work out an understanding at the top on the future course of relations to navigate through the maze of differences and build strategic trust and communication between themselves, they said.

It will be the fourth visit by Modi to China since he took over power in 2014 and a second bilateral visit. He made first bilateral visit in 2015 followed by a visit to Hangzhou to take part in the G-20 summit in 2016 and BRICS summit in Xiamen last year.

He is again due to visit Chinese city of Qingdao in June this year to take part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.

The two leaders decided to meet ahead of SCO meet as the summit of the eight-member group will offer little time and space for a lengthy interaction, the sources said.

The Modi-Xi meeting has been worked out by both sides following an understanding between the two governments that positive relations without much of tensions are most important for the development of both the countries.

While China sees India as a country of faster economic growth and safe destination for Chinese investments, and regard good ties with it is important for its peaceful rise, the thinking in India too is that peaceful relations with China is important for the progress of initiatives like the 'Make in India', they said.

At their summit, the two leaders were expected to have a "heart-to- heart" chat and look at the big picture of the bilateral ties, they said.

The summit is taking place as Xi, now regarded as the most powerful leader of China is poised for a longer tenure in the office after the last month's removal of the two-term limit for President. 

The summit provides an opportunity for the 64-year-old Chinese leader to elaborate on the contours of his oft-stated Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, while Modi was expected to highlight the importance of campaigns like the 'Make in India' and his vision of "Vasudeva Kutumbakam", (world as a single family) they said. 

The Modi-Xi summit meeting is taking place in the backdrop of a series of high level interactions between both the two countries starting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to India in December, the first after the Dokalam standoff.

It was followed by two meetings between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and the visit early this year by Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale to Beijing.