Post Swearing Ceremony, New Delhi Eyes Summit Between Modi and Xi Xingping
| Didhiti Ghosh, Bureau Chief, IOP, Kolkata - 31 May 2019

Post Swearing Ceremony, New Delhi Eyes Summit Between Modi and Xi Xingping

  • Indicating a second informal meeting between PM Modi and President Xi later this year, an Indian envoy said, a series of engagements were planned between the two countries prior to the high-profile summit
  • Modi has departed from India’s traditional non-aligned position towards a balancing act between China and the US. This has seen marked warming of ties between Beijing and New Delhi
  • The date and location of the summit were not confirmed by India’s foreign ministry
  • Chinese investment into India has risen to US$1.7 billion over the past 4½ years, compared with US$400 million during the decade of Modi’s predecessor
  • India took a ‘neighbourhood first’ approach to send invites for Modi’s swearing-in, but with one obvious omission: Pakistan
  • While nurturing ties with Beijing, Modi has also moved closer to Washington on security cooperation and continued India’s “Look East” policy
  • Improving visa processes and creating programmes for talent and academic exchange can help build a robust Sino-India bond

By Didhiti Ghosh, Bureau Chief (Kolkata), IOP

Kolkata/New Delhi, May 31, 2019: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host the Chinese President Xi Xingping later this year for an informal summit, according to the country’s foreign ministry.

“During the first Informal Summit in Wuhan, Chinese President Xingping had accepted the invitation of PM Modi to visit India for the next Informal Summit in 2019. The two sides are in touch, through diplomatic channels, to finalise the date and venue for the meeting,” a spokesman said on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters in Guiyang on the sidelines of an event held on the sidelines of the 2019 ''China International Big Data Expo'', Deputy Chief of Mission at the Indian Embassy in Beijing, Acquino Vimal said the Indian foreign minister will visit China this year, but the venue and agenda of the ministers' meeting are yet to be finalised.

"We will have many ministerial-level engagements before the high-level meeting," Mr Vimal said.

Both leaders have met several times over the past year to defuse tensions and bolster trade ties after a military stand-off at their high-altitude Himalayan border in 2017 rekindled fears of war between the two Asian nations.

Modi has departed from India’s traditional non-aligned position towards a balancing act between China and the US. This has seen marked warming of ties between Beijing and New Delhi. Since 2014, Chinese President Xi Xingping has met Modi as many as 15 times, building a strong rapport.

Chinese investment into India has risen to US$1.7 billion over the past 4½ years, compared with US$400 million during the decade of Modi’s predecessor. India has participated in Chinese initiatives such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), BRICS New Development Bank and Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.

The AIIB’s second-largest investor, India has become its largest borrower, receiving a quarter of the funds lent. While nurturing ties with Beijing, Modi has also moved closer to Washington on security cooperation and continued India’s “Look East” policy, partly to demonstrate the country’s growing influence in the region. Yet, Delhi remains wary of the US role in Asia, especially under the unpredictable Trump administration.

News of Modi’s summit with Xi came as India confirmed invites for the returned Prime Minister’s swearing-in ceremony on Thursday.

The Indian government had invited the leaders of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan – all members, with India, of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation to the swearing-in ceremony held on 30th May.

 “This is in line with government’s focus on its ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy,” a government spokesman said.

The leaders of Kyrgyzstan and Mauritius had also been invited.

 

Modi began his second term after a convincing election victory that political analysts say was helped by his handling of recent tensions with Pakistan.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi suggested the reason Prime Minister Imran Khan did not get an invite was because of India’s internal politics after Modi made “Pakistan bashing” the central theme of his election campaign.

“To expect that he will get rid of his narrative and invite the entire opposition to criticise him, it was not possible,” Qureshi told Pakistan’s Geo Television channel.

In 2014, when Modi was sworn in for his first term, leaders from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives – were invited.

Modi played up national security in his campaign for a seven-phase general election over April and May, which he won with an increased majority of 303 seats in the Lok Sabha.

Post the Lok Sabha Election buzz, apart from the economy, for Modi the next five years could mean a careful mix of social welfare, hard nationalism and taking a hard line on issues of national security.

“The stronger mandate handed to the (BJP) would certainly quicken the pace with which Prime Minister Narendra Modi can implement his structural reforms,” said Leong Lin-Jing, Asian Fixed Income Investment Manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments in a statement to SCMP.

“That means we would be assured of a prudent attitude towards social spending, further privatisation of the public sector and continued efforts to simplify and strengthen the Goods and Services Tax (GST),” he noted.

Furthermore, a robust Sino-Indian relationship would also underpin stability in Asia, paving the way for a more integrated, cooperative Asian community. Working together in four key areas will help realise this vision. Economically, China and India could complement each other, particularly given their strengths in manufacturing and services respectively. These synergies can be unleashed through deeper trade and investment cooperation. Improving visa processes and creating programmes for talent and academic exchange can help build a robust friendship between the Chinese and the Indians.

Image Courtesy: CapitalTrick, NPR, DD News

(DIDHITI GHOSH is an India Columnist at La Agencia Mundial de Prensa, USA, and is the Bureau Chief of Indian Observer Post based in Kolkata. E-mail: didhiti.24@gmail.com | LinkedIn: https://bit.ly/2H6gNAv).


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