New Delhi | Abhinav Gupta: Chinese President Xi Jinping will be in India on Friday for a two-day visit to take part in the 2nd informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In second such meeting between the two leaders, they are expected to hold comprehensive talks on a host of issues concerning the bilateral relations and exchange views on regional and international issues.

But Jinping's remarks on Kashmir, which he made during his meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, tend to change the course of the informal summit at Mamallapuram near Chennai, which was so far being seen as an attempt to improve the current troughs in the bilateral relationship between the countries.

Before the official confirmation on the October 11-12 meeting came at the eleventh hour, Jinping met Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing, ans said that “he was watching the situation in Kashmir and would support Pakistan in issues related to its core interests”.

A joint statement released after Khan's meeting with Jinping, declared that the "Kashmir issue is a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter".

To Jinping’s support to Beijing’s all-weather ally Pakistan, India reiterated that it would be in everybody's best interests if other countries stayed out of its internal affairs.

"China is well aware of our position. It is not for other countries to comment on the internal affairs of India," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.  

The sharp exchange of statements between India and China just a day before the informal summit between PM Modi and Jinping are viewed as awkward.

"The forthcoming Chennai Informal Summit will provide the two leaders with an opportunity to continue their discussions on overarching issues of bilateral, regional and global importance, and exchange views on deepening India-China Closer Development Partnership," the government has said in a statement.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in his address to the UN General Assembly saying, "No actions that would unilaterally change the status quo should be taken." However, ahead of the Modi-Xi meet, China changed its tune and said India and Pakistan should resolve the issue bilaterally, significantly omitting its recent references to the UN and UN Security Council resolutions.

News 18 quoted Indian government sources saying Kashmir was not on the table when Modi and Xi meet but if the Chinese President wanted clarity on the issue, it could be discussed.

Pakistan’s desperate attempts to internationalise the issue of Kashmir following the Indian government’s decision to abrogate the special status of the state has not been successful. 

Imran Khan had recently admitted as much, saying he was "disappointed by the international community".

During the informal summit, the two leaders are expected to discuss trade, defence, security and stronger people ties. They are also likely to discuss issues pertaining to Ladakh, China’s 5G network policy, infrastructure diplomacy, counter-terrorism and sustainable blue economy.

In terms of defence and security, the two sides would be looking to update and add to confidence building measures (CBMs) to maintain peace on the border. NSA Ajit Doval and Chinese politburo member Yang Jieche are expected to hold boundary talks alongside the summit, according to a Times of India report.  

Meanwhile, PM Modi is expected to raise the issue of trade deficit between India and China in the discussions.

The Times of India report quoted sources saying that while there was an improvement in the regulatory framework in China after Wuhan, allowing a few more Indian goods like tobacco and non-basmati rice to enter the market, the volumes were too small to make a dent in the overall trade figures.

The first informal meet between the two leaders was held in 2018 in Wuhan, which normalised the trough relations between the two countries after the 73-day standoff between the two militaries at Doklam in 2017.

The standoff took place over the Chinese military's plan to build a road close to the narrow Siliguri corridor also known as Chicken Neck corridor connecting the North-Eastern states. The military standoff ended with both sides withdrawing from the site after the Chinese military called off its road building plans.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta