The second edition of the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mamallapuram on October 12-13 could pave the way for the next stage of boundary dispute resolution between the two countries paving way for possible launch of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) clarification process and measures to export additional products to China to reduce India’s huge trade deficit, according to persons familiar with the matter.
There is a divergence between India and China over the 4,056-km long LAC and its clarification would contribute to the boundary dispute resolution. Transgressions along the LAC are a result of differing perceptions of the LAC.
Following the first informal summit in Wuhan in April 2018, China has been importing rice and sugar from India following a request from Prime Minister Modi. However, the trade balance is still tilted heavily in favor of China.
The summit could also witness progress over the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) corridor as this proposed connectivity link is outside the ambit of China’s mega Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), ET has learned. BCIM envisages connecting the Kunming region with Myanmar, Bangladesh, and India. Progress has been slow on this corridor.
External affairs minister had made it clear in his press meet on the occasion of the government completing 100 days in office that there was no rethink on India’s decision not to join the BRI. India remains opposed to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is considered the jewel crown of BRI as it passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. There are also concerns in Delhi over the opaque nature of financing offered by China for BRI projects.
Also on the agenda of the Modi-Xi summit are counterterror cooperation, US-China trade war and its impact on geo-economics and bilateral economic partnership, trade protectionism and future of World Trade Organization (WTO), Indo-Pacific constructs and third-country cooperation, according to the people cited earlier.
The two sides have cooperated to train Afghan diplomats as part of third-country projects decided at the Wuhan summit.
Among the irritants, Modi will seek to assure Xi that according to union territory status (UT) to Ladakh will not adversely impact LAC and he will seek better understanding from Xi on India’s concerns over CPEC and Pakistan’s support to terrorism against India.
China appears to be worried over the decision to grant UT status to Ladakh despite assurance from Jaishankar. The Chinese permanent representative in New York had raised the issue on August 16 at the United Nations Security Council closed-door informal session. On the other hand, there is disquiet in Delhi over repeated assertions by the Chinese foreign ministry on Kashmir at Pakistan’s behest since August 6.
In the build-up to the Mamallapuram summit, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong tweeted on Monday, “Under the strategic guidance of our leaders, China-India ties made steady progress in recent past. Looking ahead, we should further unleash the positive effect of Wuhan’s informal summit, transmit leaders’ consensus to all levels & gather positive energy for stronger bilateral ties.”
Modi and Xi will review the progress since the Wuhan summit, which helped keep bilateral ties stable across the sectors, according to people aware of the matter. The two leaders could also focus on celebrations to be held in 2020 on completion of 70 years of diplomatic ties.
When the duo met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Bishkek in June, Modi invited Xi for a second bilateral informal summit while emphasizing that dialogue with Pakistan might not be possible at that stage. He also conveyed that India had a bilateral mechanism to engage with Pakistan, thereby reiterating that there was no role for any third party.
At that meeting, Modi is understood to have conveyed to Xi that improvement of ties between the two sides was possible because both sides were able to resolve long-pending issues such as the opening of Bank of China branch in India and UN listing of Pakistan-based terrorist Masood Azhar.
Source: Economic Times