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Day two of Modi-Xi’s talks kick off with walk by lake in Wuhan

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China president Xi Jinping are set for more activities on their second day, including a boat ride and attending a tea-making ceremony. Modi is due to leave Wuhan in the afternoon.

india Updated: Apr 28, 2018 09:42 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Wuhan
Modi in Wuhan,Modi in China,Day two informal China summit
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping take a walk by the East Lake in Wuhan, China on Saturday.(MEA/Twitter)

The final and the most “informal” rounds of between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping began on Saturday in the central Chinese city of Wuhan when the two leaders took a walk by the East Lake.

This is to be followed by a boat ride and a tea-making ceremony. (Live updates)

The interactions, part of the two-day summit, will be just between the two leaders, with only a translator from each side present.

Modi and Xi are expected to walk for about 30 minutes on the manicured lawns of the East Lake guest house. After that, the two will hop on to a two-decker boat on the East Lake for an hour-long ride.

On the top deck, the leaders will witness a classical Chinese tea-making ceremony while engaging on topics that touch international, regional and bilateral issues.

They will next catch up for a private lunch to be hosted by Xi at the guest house where, again, only the two leaders and their interpreters will be present.

By the time Modi is expected to fly out of Wuhan on Saturday afternoon, it is expected that the two leaders would have laid out – if nothing else – the broad contours of better communication channels between themselves to manage both the differences between the countries peacefully.

The final round of talks follow the exchanges on Friday where Modi invited Xi to another informal summit in India in 2019 and said they should continue to meet in the same format.

“I hope such informal summits become a tradition between both the countries. I’ll be happy if, in 2019, we can have such (an) informal summit in India,” Modi had said.

Xi welcomed Modi to Xian, saying that in the past three years, he and Modi had established a good working relationship through mutual visits and meetings at multilateral events. The Chinese president said he expected their two-day informal meeting to open a new chapter in bilateral ties.

Xi added that via these meetings, the two of them have reached many important consensuses which have sent the world a positive signal on China-India friendship and reflected the strong will of the two emerging economies to enhance mutually beneficial cooperation and achieve common development goals.

Comments in the state media were also optimistic.

“Two great countries should have great cooperation,” said a commentary in Communist Party of China’s mouthpiece, People’s Daily’s international edition.

“Strategic similarities far outweigh specific differences, the need for cooperation far outweighs conflict in certain areas,” it added.

“The beauty of the ‘informal’ summit between President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Wuhan, Hubei province, is that it comes with no baggage, only expectations,” an editorial in the state-run China Daily said on Saturday.

“It is free of the usual diplomatic frills, somewhat beyond the global media limelight...

And, if as expected, the “heart-to-heart” communication between the two leaders on Friday reflected their deepened mutual chemistry. Which, in turn, will be conducive to improving mutual trust between the neighbours and charting the course of long-term bilateral development,” it added.

The editorial touched upon the differences between the two countries.

“There is no denying, however, that mutual suspicion is keeping the two countries from deepening cooperation and working together on regional and international issues, from fighting climate change to improving global governance. The border incident last summer was just one example of what mutual suspicion could lead to, reminding both sides of the disruptive potential of distrust,” it said, referring to the Doklam standoff.

Yet, the newspaper remained optimistic.

“...Neither Beijing nor New Delhi calls the other an enemy, which means both expect bilateral ties to improve. Indeed, China and India are natural partners, and both realise they carry the hopes of the other developing countries to improve international relations, in order to make the world order more equitable,” it said.

First Published: Apr 28, 2018 08:31 IST