Narendra Modi Xi Jinping Meet: Wuhan set the template with ‘Chai pe Charcha’, now up to Mahabalipuram
Wuhan was able to develop greater understanding and appreciation by both countries of each other’s sensitivities and offered short-term solutions and long term hope in complex bilateral ties.Updated: Oct 11, 2019 12:48 IST
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held the first informal summit in Wuhan in 2018, setting the template for closer engagement between the two of the fastest growing economies and regional rivals that fought a war over boundary disputes nearly six decades ago. The second edition of the meet is taking place in Mahabalipuram from October 11 to 12.
A peacock-motif menu card drawn with colours of the Indian flag had welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Wuhan which also saw Xi Jinping draw him into a ‘chai pe charcha’ on a boat at the East Lake, in an informal and refreshing meeting between the leaders of the two most populous nations whose differences range from counter territorial claims to trade.
Wuhan was able to develop greater understanding and appreciation by both countries of each other’s sensitivities and offered short-term solutions and long term hope in complex bilateral ties.
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“The forward-looking dialogue raised the level of strategic communication about the perspective, priorities, and vision that guide their respective policy choices domestically, regionally and globally,” the foreign ministry had said after Wuhan and added that the first-of-its-kind informal summit had also helped them in “forging a common understanding” of the future direction of India-China relations built upon “mutual respect for each other’s developmental aspirations and prudent management of differences with mutual sensitivity”.
Xi and Modi had taken a walk by the East Lake without any aides in attendance allowing them to converse freely. It was followed by a boat ride at the lake which hosted the discussions over tea in the scenic and serene surroundings.
The mood was aptly set by a Chinese band playing the tune for a chartbuster Bollywood number from yesteryears, ‘Mil jaayein is tarah, do lahrein jis tarah’.
The Wuhan summit took place in the backdrop of the 72-days-long Doklam stand-off between Indian and Chinese soldiers in 2017 when the Chinese troops undertook construction work in the area bordering India, China, and Bhutan. India and China both withdrew after long negotiations that many feared could escalate.
The differences between the two sides have been resolved at a faster pace following the one-on-one talks held between the two leaders in Wuhan last year.
Most recently, soldiers from the two armies faced off near the northern bank of Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh in September just before a massive military exercise planned along the China border by India. The stand-off was resolved quickly following talks between the two sides.
Another important marker in the India-China engagement following the Wuhan informal summit was the blacklisting of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar in May this year. China lifted its technical hold following the gruesome Pulwama terror attack which saw India launch a diplomatic offensive paving the way for the blacklisting-- a major diplomatic victory for India.
China had been stonewalling Masood’s blacklisting for years and helping out its all-weather-friend Pakistan.
Preparations to welcome Xi to Tamil Nadu for the second informal summit are complete. The Chinese president is expected to fly into Chennai in the afternoon of October 11, following which Modi and Xi will visit heritage temples and monuments in Mahabalipuram built by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th and 8th centuries.
They will also attend a cultural programme before Modi hosts a private dinner for Xi, both at the Shore Temple. While no Memorandum of Understanding or agreements will be signed during the two-day engagement, Xi and Modi are expected to hold one-on-one and delegation-level talks. The meeting between the two will not have a specific agenda, however, the focus of the meeting will be on improving people-to-people contact and on how to maintain peace and tranquility along the India-China border.
As per the foreign ministry, the Mahabalipuram informal summit will provide an opportunity to the two leaders to continue their discussions on overarching issues of bilateral, regional and global importance and to exchange views on deepening India-China partnership.