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PM Modi not restrained by past diplomacy: Officials on Wuhan summit with Xi

Officials said PM Narendra Modi is approaching the Wuhan summit with Chinese president Xi Jinping with an open mind without the diplomatic encumbrances of the past.

india Updated: Apr 24, 2018 11:19 IST
Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Narendra Modi,Xi Jinping,India
Observers say at a time US and Russia are locking horns and Beijing is being bypassed on North Korea by US President Donald Trump, it is in the interest of both PM Modi and Xi to have a strategic conversation.(PTI/File Photo)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is approaching the Wuhan summit with Chinese president Xi Jinping with an open mind without the diplomatic encumbrances of the past, South Block and PMO officials said, attributing this to the fact that the Chinese leader came across as reasonable and without the legacy of deep state that most Chinese leaders do at the 2017 Xiamen BRICS summit, held immediately after the resolution of the Doklam stand-off between the two countries.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the decision to hold the informal summit was floated during the visits of foreign minister Wang Yi and politburo member Yang Jiechi in 2017 after both sides showed interest in improving ties despite core concerns. Thereafter a two pronged channel was opened between foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and Wang, and India’s NSA Ajit Doval and Yang to take plan forward.

The decision on the Wuhan summit was sealed during Shangai meeting of Doval and Yang on April 13. Hindustan Times first reported on March 17 the news of a possible informal summit.

There are indications that Prime Minister Modi will continue his efforts, started in September 2014 in Ahmedabad, to improve relationships with President Xi despite the fear of another PLA incursion like that in Chumar (soon after the Modi-Xi meeting) this time around also.

Since taking over as PM, Narendra Modi has made it a point to keep in touch with world leaders at a personal level, and particularly with President Xi as he believes the only gainer out of poor India-China relationship is Pakistan, analysts said. President Xi, on his part, has also positively responded whether it was resolution of Chumar in 2014 or Doklam in 2017 after PM Modi personally intervened, the analysts added.

China watchers says that in times of global volatility with the US and Russia locking horns and Beijing being bypassed on North Korea by US President Donald Trump, it is in the interest of both PM Modi and President Xi to have an honest strategic conversation which clears the bilateral air.

“While India has concerns over OBOR, CPEC, 1267 resolution and NSG, China too has concerns over the Tibetan government in exile (in India). It is time the two leaders come to sort of compromise over each other’s core interests,” said a top Indian diplomat.

Just as India is reaching out to China, the latter has also reached out to Japan and Vietnam with Prime Minister Li Keqiang travelling to Tokyo in order to end a three year old freeze in relations. With China being the number two economy and India standing at number 6, national security planners on both sides feel that there should be direct communication between the two top leaders.

While PM Modi’s key diplomatic advisors have told him not to listen to institutional advice before Wuhan, the time has also come for President Xi to show the kind of flexibility he did at the G-20 summit at Hamburg (on resolving Doklam) again so that the two countries can together work towards Deng Xiaoping’s dream of an Asian Century.

First Published: Apr 24, 2018 07:21 IST