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Trade war, terrorism on table when PM Modi meets Xi Jinping this week

PM Modi and Xi Jinping will meet on the sidelines of the SCO summit on June 12-14 and are expected to discuss the state of bilateral ties besides regional and international issues.

india Updated: Jun 10, 2019 15:47 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Narendra Modi,Xi Jinping,PM Modi
Modi and Xi will meet on the sidelines of the SCO summit on June 12-14 and are expected to discuss the state of bilateral ties besides regional and international issues.(PTI Photo)

China on Monday said President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi would likely discuss the ongoing trade frictions with the US at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan this week.

Xi could make a pitch for New Delhi and Beijing working together against trade protectionism policies of the US when he meets Modi on the sidelines of the SCO summit on June 12-14. They are expected to discuss counter-terrorism, the state of bilateral ties besides regional and international issues.

Leaders at the summit will discuss security and economy-related issues with a focus on counter-terrorism but it is not aimed at targeting any country, Zhang Hanui, vice foreign minister said at a briefing on the summit on Monday.

The SCO is a jointly-led China-Russia eight-member economic and security bloc comprising Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, India and Pakistan. Since it was founded in the early 2000s, some scholars have called the SCO a counter to the US-led NATO.

At the Bishkek summit, the meeting between the Indian and Chinese leaders assume significance as it will be the first time the two leaders meet after the Modi-led BJP returned to power in May; the two had met four times last year.

“Once again we congratulate Prime Minister Modi. President Xi and Prime Minister Modi are good friends. They had a very successful informal summit at Wuhan last year,” Zhang said.

He said the two leaders were “good friends” and referred to the 2018 informal summit between the two leaders at the central Chinese city of Wuhan where both provided “strategic guidance” for the development of bilateral ties following chill of the Doklam (Donglang) military standoff in 2017.

Zhang gave an outline of the Modi-Xi meeting’s agenda on the sidelines of SCO.

“While the details for the meeting are under discussion, I believe every bilateral meeting between President Xi and Prime Minister Modi is very important. From the Chinese side, we will make good preparations for the success of the bilateral meeting,” he said.

Zhang said the China-US trade war and the “spectre” of emerging trade frictions between the US and India could become an important part of the discussions between the two leaders.

“Whether they will talk about trade friction between China and the US and the spectre of trade frictions between the US and India, such things are not surprising. I believe this could become an important topic in his bilateral meetings with the related leaders,” he said.

Beijing possibly hopes that India, which is also facing trade frictions with the US especially over the termination of its designation as a ‘beneficiary developing country’ under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), would join the fight against Trump’s protectionist policies.

“Trade protectionism and unilateralism are very much on the rise. How to respond to the bullying practices of the US, its practice of trade protectionism this is an important question not only to China but also has a direct bearing on the recovery of the global economy,” Zhang said.

“So I would say it will be helpful if the two leaders could exchange views and we hope their communication will lead to an extensive consensus on upholding justice and opposing trade protectionism. I hope with their cooperation, the two countries will not only enhance bilateral trade but also play an important role in promoting the global economy, he said.

On terrorism, the vice foreign minister said the “institutional building” of the SCO will be discussed that would involve economic cooperation and security cooperation particularly on counter-terrorism”.

“Security and development are two major issues of focus for the SCO. The establishment of the SCO is not to target any certain country but the summit of this level will certainly, pay attention to major international relation and regional issues,” Zhang said.

First Published: Jun 10, 2019 13:32 IST