After their first informal meeting at the Sabarmati Ashram of Mahatma Gandhi in Gujarat in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will have a two-day “heart-to-heart” summit from tomorrow at Wuhan, a favourite holiday spot of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong. Xi will be hosting Modi for an informal summit where officials say the two leaders would spend most of time interacting with each other with one-on-one conversations focussing on global, regional and bilateral issues.
The famous East Lake in the city where the two leaders would spend most of the time was a favourite holiday spot for Mao. The picturesque garden adjacent to the mighty Yangtze river is also where Mao used to enjoy his favourite pastime swimming. The place has iconic holiday villa of Mao, which is now a memorial where Xi is expected to take Modi round.
At the Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad and its surroundings, Modi was Xi’s guide to introduce the essence of Gandhian thought, including his iconic Charkha where the Chinese leader, who has emerged as the powerful leader of the country with an unlimited tenure, tried his hand to operate Gandhiji’s most cherished symbol. It is now Xi’s turn at Wuhan.
The details of the informal summit was not disclosed but officials said it included walks by the two leaders in the East Lake where they will have a boat ride and take walks just accompanied by their translators. Modi, who arrives late this evening, will have relaxed meetings with Xi tomorrow and the day after, which officials say could become a game-changer if they manage to reach consensus on finding the solution to the problems, including the way forward to resolve the boundary dispute and other vexed issues that bedevilled the ties.
Ahead of the summit, China said the arrangements being made for Modi’s stay in Wuhan would go beyond the expectations of the Indian side and the informal summit could be a new starting point. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou told the media this week that Modi will stay in a most comfortable place in Wuhan, without revealing the location citing security reasons.
“The two leaders will spend two days in Wuhan. In these two days, they will engage with each other on various forums. What I can tell you is that they will spend a lot of time together one-on-one,” he said. “This kind of one-on-one is not often seen in other countries,” he added.
The upcoming summit will be an informal one, different from formal visits. The summit will be relaxed and friendly with rich format, he had said. The two leaders will have strategic communication on the major changes in the international landscape unseen in more than 100 years, Kong said in an apparent reference to major changes taking place following US President Donald Trump’s aggressive ‘America First’ policy threatening to undermine the process of globalisation under which India and China are the biggest beneficiaries. They will have in-depth exchange of views on the issues of overarching long-term and strategic importance in the bilateral relations, Kong said.
Officials on both sides played down speculation of any agreement to be reached between the two leaders saying that no such thing was on the table. Modi and Xi will try to work out a general framework for relations to move ahead without much of great expectations about the outcome, Indian officials said. Conceived on the lines of the 1988 ice-breaking visit to China undertaken by the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and his far-reaching talks with China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping setting a new tone for the relations post-1962 war, Xi-Modi dialogue at Wuhan was aimed at a working a new paradigm for the bilateral relations for the next 15 years, 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. It is a leadership driven summit providing a leadership driven direction and a way forward to more stable bilateral ties, they added. This will be fourth visit of Modi to China after he came to power in 2014. He is again due to visit China to take part in the SCO summit to be held at Qingdao city on June 9-10.