While the focus of India-China talks during President Xi Jinping’s visit remains the cementing of economic ties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to also emphasise on trust-building and push for a clarification on the 3,488km line of actual control (LAC).
“PM Modi will convey that two politically strong leaders of aspiring global powers should chart a new course in often troubled ties by infusing trust in the relationship,” said a China watcher in South Block.
Modi, it is understood, will raise the subject of frequent tensions between the Indian and Chinese armies due to different perceptions of the LAC. He will emphasise that the only way to move towards resolution of the border dispute is for Beijing to take the first step of clarifying the People’s Liberation Army’s build-up positions.
While New Delhi and Beijing have exchanged maps of the middle sector (Uttarakhand), a similar exercise of LAC clarification for the western sector (Ladakh) was taken up in the past but didn’t get anywhere with both sides objecting to the other’s perceptions. Similarly, there has been no exchange of maps for the eastern sector (Arunachal Pradesh), which has seen several skirmishes over alleged incursions.
Government sources said that while the PM was all for a deeper economic engagement with Chi-na, he was also concerned over Beijing’s growing influence in the subcontinent — particularly Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives — and frequent forays of its warships into the Indian Ocean.
The other factor that has lead to a trust deficit between the two sides, they added, was Bejing’s all-weather relationship with Pakistan that encompasses nuclear and military dimensions.
While bringing up these key issues, Modi is also expected to remind Xi during their private meetings on Wednesday and Thursday that they have much in common — the similarity in their age (Modi at 64 is three years older than Xi), their political rise through the provinces and their strong grip over their respective parties.