Modi-Xi Mamallapuram meet: A new era in Sino-India bilateral cooperation

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Published: October 12, 2019 9:24:42 PM

Besides taking measures to further deepen military ties and mutual trust between the two sides, both Modi and Xi also focused on increasing the flow of tourists and increasing people-to-people ties.

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As expected, Modi-Xi informal meeting avoided serious discussions on controversial issues such as border conflict, Pakistan and Kashmir. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the visiting President Xi Jinping of China focussed on trade, investment and global terrorism. The main idea behind such an informal meeting is to build trust between the two countries which helps them in maintaining the status quo, opine experts.

Besides taking measures to further deepen military ties and mutual trust between the two sides, both Modi and Xi also focused on increasing the flow of tourists and increasing people-to-people ties.

Modi leads by example! Watch PM plogging at Mamallapuram beach during Xi Jinping visit

According to the Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, boundary matters were discussed and it was decided that the Special Representatives will continue their talks to arrive at a mutually-agreed framework, which will be based on Political Parameters and Guiding Principles that have been agreed by the two sides in 2005. And was agreed that work will continue on additional Confidence Building Measures to achieve this.

Both leaders have recognized the importance of rules-based multilateral trading system and have decided to work together pushing for open and inclusive trade arrangements for the benefit of all.

Expert View

Says Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, “Neither, China nor India expects an overnight solution on border issues. But they do realise that any escalation of conflict between the two states may jeopardise the stability in the region and divert the limited resources for military purposes. Therefore, they want to manage the conflict, and not necessarily resolve it.”

Doklam issue in 2017 was resolved amicably and was an outcome of informal channels of communication at several layers, Kumar says. Adding, formal agreements are often for public display and consumptions, and leaders often discuss contentious issues informally, Kumar adds.

Sharing similar views, Prof Rajesh Rajagopalan, School of International Studies, JNU, says “Xi and Modi mostly appear not to have discussed any major political differences, such as over Pakistan, Article 370, and the Quad etc.”

In Rajagoplalan’s view, “Trade issues are important but ultimately will not determine the state of Sino-Indian ties. We have seen, even in the recent past, countries with very good trade relations with China facing serious political difficulties with it. Similarly, people-to-people contact is meaningless in deciding political relations. Our own deep ties with the Soviet Union/Russia happened despite very little of it, and Sino-Pak ties are another similar example.”

The basic problem is that India and China have fundamental political and power differences that cannot entirely be bridged. In this case, there appears not to have been even an attempt to bridge it, but rather look for areas where some improvements are possible. It’s possible this is a more realistic approach, he observes.

Highlights of the Informal meeting

New India-China trade mechanism to be launched soon. It will be headed by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and the Chinese Vice Premier.

Since 2014, the two leaders have met 18 times. And will be meeting for the 19th time on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit in Bangkok in 15 days.

Both countries have started a new chapter in their bilateral relations with the “Chennai Connect”.

The concept of the informal setting for talks was Prime Minister Modi’s idea, post-Doklam. The first meeting was held in Wuhan.

Modi-Xi over two days spent almost six hours in one-on-one talks.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has been invited to visit Beijing.

Issue of radicalization was discussed but there was nothing specific on terror.

Pakistan was mentioned by Xi as it’s Prime Minister Imran Khan had recently visited China.

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