India and China may have an uneasy political relationship, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s skill, scale and speed mantra to match Beijing’s economic prowess has impressed Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Xi singled out Modi’s catchy formula for praise during their meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Brazil where the two leaders discussed various issues ranging from their border dispute to economic cooperation between the two Asian giants.
Officials say the leaders struck a rapport during the 80-minute meeting where President Xi spoke of the “efficiency, and administrative responsiveness” in Gujarat under Modi when he was chief minister and also cited the “quick response on investment facilitation” soon after Modi visited China in 2011.
Analysts say Xi wooed Modi with the peace-through-development approach by offering to make India a founding member of the $50-billion Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, mostly funded by China.
This offer has been made at the official level earlier, but this was for the first time China has taken up the matter at a higher level.
It won’t be an easy call for New Delhi. The Chinese move to set up the bank is seen as part of its plans to exert greater influence in Asia and weaken the influence of the US and Japan. The bank is seen a plan to counter the Asian Development Bank, which is dominated by the US and Japan.
Japan and the US are the two biggest shareholders in ADB with 15.7% and 15.6% respectively. These two countries have a combined voting power of 26%, compared with China’s 5.47%.
China says putting in more money does not mean it gets a controlling stake. The Chinese feel countries in Asia need more lending agencies to fund their growing infrastructure needs.
Xi also invited India to attend the APEC summit in November, sending a message of cooperation during the first meeting between the new leaders of the world’s most populous countries.