Sources said the Chinese side has assured India that such remarks on Kashmir by its envoy in Islamabad was not the country’s position.
Chennai/New Delhi: India on Wednesday officially announced the holding of the second informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mahabalip-uram (also known as Mamallapuram) near Chennai on October 11-12.
In a brief statement, the external affairs ministry said Chinese President Xi Jinping would visit Chennai on October 11-12 for the informal summit, and he and Mr Modi would “continue their discussions on overarching issues of bilateral, regional and global importance and to exchange views on the deepening India-China Closer Develop-ment Partnership”. The two leaders had their first informal summit in Wuhan, China, on April 27-28, 2018.
The announcement came a day after India registered a “verbal protest” with Beijing over the “objectionable” comme-nts by the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan in which he said China was working for Kashmiris to help them get their fundamental rights and justice. Sources said the Chinese side has assured India that such remarks on Kashmir by its envoy in Islamabad was not the country’s position.
While there are indications India will not proactively raise the Kashmir issue, sources said if President Xi wants to understand the issues involved, Mr Modi may take the opportunity to “explain” the reasons for the abrogation of Article 370 in J&K and how it has no bearing on India’s external boundaries. However, sources said that on Kashmir, India maintains it is an internal matter and was not open for any discussion on that, or to allow third party mediation.
Sino-Indian ties have seen some fresh strain in the past two months after India, in early August, revoked Article 370 and split J&K into two Union territories. China objected to it as the geographical boundaries of Ladakh UT (like J&K state) will encompass Aksai Chin, which is now under Chinese occupation and which Beijing regards as its territory. With Pakistan too strongly objecting to the Indian move, and Beijing backing its all-weather friend Islamabad at the UN recently, Pakistan is the proverbial elephant in the room when it comes to Sino-Indian ties.
The issue of terrorism — a key Indian concern — will also be raised strongly by Mr Modi during his talks with President Xi. “Terrorism will be discussed for sure. Training, financing and support in any form will be taken up by the Indian side,” sources said.
“Irritants in the relationship”, like the incursions and ways to deal with them in a better way, will also be discussed. “Peace and tranquillity are high priority issues. There are mechanisms in place but there are irritants and all countries have such issues. Possibly additional confidence-building measures (CBMs) can be discussed to avoid incursions... If there are certain matters that are not resolvable in the near future, we should prevent them from getting worse,” the sources said, referring to the Sino-Indian border dispute.
Improving people-to-people contacts will also have special focus at the discussions, given the fact the two neighbours will celebrate 70 years of their diplomatic ties next year. Among global issues that may come up are reforms in the UN Security Council, that Mr Modi has been constantly highlighting.
“Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit India from October 11th to 12th for the 2nd Informal Summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Chennai. Hope their strategic guidance and friendship will usher China-India ties into a new chapter,” Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong said.
“With growing uncertainty in the international situation, China and India should strengthen cooperation on international and regional affairs, just as we once jointly advocated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which have become basic norms of international relations,” he added.
President Xi is expected to land in Chennai on Friday afternoon with a huge delegation. The two leaders are expected to hold a walkthrough in the evening at Mahabalipuram on the beach near the ancient shore temple, after which Mr Modi will host a dinner for the Chinese leader at an informal yet luxurious setting by the seaside. The main day of the informal summit and deliberations will be Saturday, October 12, when the entire gamut of bilateral ties may be discussed.
There had earlier been considerable speculation, especially over the past week, due to the delay in announcing the dates and venue of the meeting. There had been strains in Sino-Indian ties after Beijing’s support to Pakistan at the UN recently on the Kashmir issue after India abrogated Article 370 and bifurcated J&K state in early August. China was upset over the Indian Army holding exercises in Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing regards as part of its territory. India too was unhappy with China backing Pakistan at the UN on the Kashmir issue, and also with Beijing pushing for informal discussions on the Kashmir issue by the members of the UN Security Council at the behest of Pakistan a few weeks ago.
The summit is expected to once again put bilateral ties on an upward trajectory after the past two months of tensions in Sino-Indian ties. To that extent, it could accomplish what the first informal summit, held last year in the central Chinese industrial city of Wuhan, also set out to do, after the two neighbours were locked in a military standoff at Doklam in Bhutanese territory in 2017.