PM Narendra Modi, Chinese President Xi Jinping getting to business in practical way, says India ahead of second informal summit

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Oct 09, 2019, 05.23 PM(IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

File photo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The informal summit is unlike the regular summit which involves the signing of MoUs, agreements and joint statements.

As India gets ready to host the Chinese President Xi Jinping for the second India China informal summit, many issues are going to be discussed by both the leaders.

These include additional confidence-building measures (CBMs), counter-terror, trade, reforms at United Nations Security Council, challenges faced at the World Trade Organisation and "selective walking back from global trading arrangements" where both India and China "have a similar approach". Afghanistan will serve as the host of these issues on the table.

A source told WION that the objective of the summit will be to build "contacts at the highest level and exchange views on strategic issues and overarching issues in the world today and giving a broad direction to bilateral ties".

The source explained that the "communication between the leaders is routinised and easy-going" indicating that "President Xi & PM Modi are getting to business in an informal and a more practical way... several hours of one to one discussion [will happen] in which any subject can be discussed".

Additionally, the discussion will be more about ''where the leaders see the relationship going and how and where we need to address it" and so far "political relations have gone well, there have been several visits by both sides since Wuhan".

The summit will mark the third meeting between both the leaders since the re-election of President Xi. They have already met in Japan on the sidelines of G20 Summit and in Kyrgystan on the sidelines of the SCO summit. PM Modi and President Xi will be meeting next in Bangkok on the sidelines of the East Asia/ASEAN summit from 31 October-4 November 2019. The meeting will come within 15 days of the informal summit. The Bangkok meeting will be the fourth this year between Xi-Modi.

Xi will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Wang Yi. National Security Adviser Doval and External Affairs Minister Jaishanker will be present in the meetings. 

The source said that there has been "fairly frequent" contact and there is "readiness by both sides to maintain and advance the contact and [to] build a personal connection".

The informal summit is unlike the regular summit which involves the signing of MoUs, agreements and joint statements.

President Xi will land on Friday afternoon, and there will be an engagement with PM Modi with the latter showing the former the world heritage sites at Mahabalipuram. Dinner will be hosted by the PM on Friday evening with a cultural show being organised by Kalakshetra. The second round of talks will take place on Saturday in the one-to-one format as well as on the delegation-level. President Xi will depart by 2 pm IST for Nepal on that day itself. 

For India, the trade deficit "remains a matter of concern" and even though there is "encouraging progress" on the regulatory side like market access for soya, non-basmati rice, rapeseed, Tabacco leaves since Wuhan, "it is yet to translate into meaningful ways on volumes on trade front", said the government source. ''We need to bridge that trade deficit... our effort is [to understand] how much flexibility China is willing to show in sectors and certain tariff lines", the source added.

The resolution on border dispute has been topping the priority for both the sides and while "mechanism is in place" on border disputes which both sides have been "able to handle in a sensible manner", both are looking at additional CBMs. Additionally, these won't be announced in the summit with the "[negotiations on the border dispute] being part of the discussion''. Focus for both New Delhi and Bejing will be how to "make sure peace and tranquillity" remains on the border.

More India China defence exchanges are coming soon and additional CBMs can be announced during that time or during Special Representative (SR) meetings between National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi. Later this year, the annual bilateral joint counter-terrorism exercises will also take place.

Next year is the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the relationship between India and China. The focus will be "how we commemorate this summit and make it more people-centric". Terrorism will be other key issues that will be discussed with "the common threat we face and [which] needs to be addressed comprehensively". Indo-pacific issues, the source said, will be on the table and "it is important for us and the PM has publically articulated it... at official levels, we have explained it to China."

Government sources dismissed that Jammu and Kashmir will be on agenda, saying "irrespective of whichever country we deal with, our position is very clear. The issue of discussing with any country doesn't arise."

Adding, "If the President of China would like to understand, the PM will outline what we have done. On Union Territory of Ladakh, logic has been explained. FM Jaishankar has made our position clear in this regard." 

On Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's ongoing China visit, the source said, "visit has been decided by Pakistan and China and the matter is not a concern to us... we don't see it as hyphenation if the other side sees it, the Chinese side has to react".