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Modi and Xi meet in Wuhan keeps optimism high for long-term development of India-China ties

Through “heart-to-heart” exchanges, Modi and Xi are expected to lay the roadmap for a better bilateral consensus and understanding in the future.

world Updated: Apr 27, 2018 12:04 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Wuhan
xi jinping modi,modi xi jinping meeting,china president xi jinping
Prime Minister Narendra Modi waves to people gathered outside his hotel in Wuhan on Thursday night. Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will tour a museum, and take a boat ride on the East Lake during the informal summit on Friday and Saturday in Wuhan, China.(PIB India/Twitter)

The stage is set for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first ever informal summit as they ready for at least half a dozen round of talks in the central Chinese city of Wuhan beginning Friday afternoon.

The two leaders will tour a museum, have a boat ride on a lake and walk down a park while engaging in talks on a wide range of macro issues.

Through “heart-to-heart” exchanges, Modi and Xi are expected to lay the roadmap for a better bilateral consensus and understanding in the future.

“This is the first such informal summit between India and China,” an Indian official said on Thursday.

The outcomes from the summit, repeatedly termed as “informal” by both Indian and Chinese diplomats, are not expected to be tangible — deals will not be signed nor will a joint statement be issued.

A press statement from the Indian side is expected to be issued at the end of the series of meetings on Saturday.

The absence of a joint statement doesn’t mean that the leaders will not reach consensus on issues, officials said.

The informal nature of the meetings is only to ensure that the two leaders can engage in a relaxed atmosphere with negligible diplomatic trappings, officials added.

Read | India-China cooperation outweighs our differences

The Chinese media on Friday said the meetings could improve ties between the countries.

“The tete-a-tete between the two leaders is going to set a stage for Beijing and New Delhi to further exchange views over long-term and strategic issues and to initiate fresh momentum for future bilateral cooperation,” official news agency, Xinhua, said in commentary.

“On global trade issues, both Xi and Modi have warned on different occasions of the dire threats of rising trade barriers to the world economy. China and India should firmly stick to the spirit of free trade so as to help maintain the current global free trading system with the World Trade Organisation at the centre,” it added.

Writing for state-run China Daily newspaper, Yi Fan, a Beijing-based expert on international affairs, said: “In this context, the Wuhan meeting provides a much needed opportunity for strategic communication at the top level. The two leaders are expected to hold in-depth talks in a relaxed setting on issues vital to the long-term development of Sino-Indian ties.”

“Rather than focusing on specific issues, such heart-to-heart talks can seek to close the perception gap and restore strategic trust, and form new consensus in order to put bilateral ties back on the track of steady growth,” Yi added.

Talking about increasing people-to-people and cultural exchanges between India and China, the Xinhua report said: “In recent years, the cultural and people-to-people exchanges between China and India have been enhanced as well. The India-originated Yoga and Indian films have gained large popularity across China.”

“Last year, visits that have been made between peoples of China and India surpassed 1 million, with 42 flights coming back and forth between the two countries every week. But still, for the two big countries with a total population of over 2.6 billion, there is huge potential to be tapped in this area,” it added.

First Published: Apr 27, 2018 11:18 IST