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Focus on developmental cooperation, Chinese academics say after summit

The Modi-Xi meeting, though unexpected, was necessary to reduce mistrust and suspicion following last year’s tense military standoff, the academics said.

world Updated: Apr 28, 2018 22:39 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Wuhan, Hindustan Times
Narendra Modi,Xi Jinping,Doklam standoff
In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping talk at a garden in Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province on Saturday, April 28, 2018. (AP)

The informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping will likely contribute to deepening communication between the leaders and different levels of the two governments, Chinese experts said at the end of the two-day meet.

The meeting, though unexpected, was necessary to reduce mistrust and suspicion following last year’s tense military standoff, the academics said.

Neither Indian nor Chinese officials directly talked about the standoff but it was evident the 73-day face-off at Doklam was weighing down ties.

“I hope following the face-to-face informal exchange between the two top leaders, the two governments will focus on development. Development is the priority among priorities. Hopefully, the governments will now focus on developmental cooperation. Through more developmental cooperation, we can dilute the negative impact of differences,” said Hu Shisheng, director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceania Studies in Beijing.

Another academic said it was important that the two leaders focussed on broader issues.

“Without dialogue there is no chance to improve relations. Exchanges on education and culturecan foster better understanding. Focussing on these soft issues in the relations could help ties,” said Lu Yang, South Asian scholar at the Institute of the Belt and Road Initiative at Tsinghua University.

Talking about the road ahead, Lu said: “We cannot always look at the border and Tibet, they are only part of the relations, not the whole picture. Bilateral trade in 2017 hit $84.44 billion. Indian exports to China saw a nearly 40% rise in 2017. Strong impetus can come from trade and investment.”

Hu said it was crucial for the governments to focus on convergences to create a broad platform for the future of the relationship.

“Informal meetings have many advantages, such as not being arranged according to established institutional norms. Issues can be discussed more openly and communication is easier. Informal meetings are often necessary preparations for formal meetings,” said XuLiangfrom the Beijing International Studies University.

The Chinese president too said on Friday that informal summits could help take ties to the next level.

There was word of caution for India as well from academics.

VictorShih, associate professor at the school of global policy and strategy at the University of California at San Diego, said India should be prepared for more challenges with Xi becoming more powerful after gaining much more power within the Communist Party.

“After consolidating power, he will focus on his strategic vision of making China into a superpower both economically and strategically. The emergence of a leader with such a focus on superpower status at India’s doorstep will be a challenge to its government for years to come,” Shih said.

First Published: Apr 28, 2018 22:38 IST