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Modi-Xi Chennai Summit: Stage set for second informal summit between India and China

Huma Siddiqui
Modi-Xi Chennai Summit, india china ties, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, Article 370, kashmir, Imran Khan, BRICS summit, G20

Leaders of India and China are meeting in an informal setting in the seaside historical town of Mahabalipuram from Oct 11-12, and issues of global, regional and bilateral importance are on the table for talks. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet in an informal setting there is no fixed agenda for talks, the priority between the two is peace along the border a "high priority", and there would be additional confidence-building measures, according to sources. In the absence of a formal setting, there will be no agreements signed, but it is likely that the two leaders could take a decision on the next round of Special Representative talks on the border issue.

Discussions between Modi and Xi will not cover either Kashmir or the government's decision to revoke Article 370, as both the issues are internal to India and are part of India's sovereign function. In case President Xi would like to know and learn more about Kashmir, he will be explained more, said sources. Issues related to Kashmir and the revocation Article 370, are internal to India and no further discussion with any country.

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China had expressed its objection to Ladakh becoming a Union Territory, after the revocation of Article 370 and India has conveyed that the step was taken based on the demands of the locals there and has in no way altered the external boundary.This will be the third meeting between the two leaders after the massive meeting in the General Elections in May this year. Modi and Xi had met in Bishkek on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit, and in Osaka, on the sidelines of the G20. And they will meet again later this year at the BRICS summit in Brasilia, Brazil.

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Sources have indicated that the visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to Beijing is of no concern to India and it is between two countries and their relations with each other. Currently, both Khan and his army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa are in Beijing and are trying to woe Chinese investors and attempting to deepen their ties.

Modi and Xi have met at least six times since the Wuhan summit in 2018, which was an indication that the two sides are interested in keeping up the efforts to further ensure that the relations are deeper.

Why outside Delhi?

According to sources, the decision to take summit outside the national capital has been based on the clear guidance given by Prime Minister Modi to showcase the entire country. Earlier the Chinese leader President Xi had visited Ahmadabad the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had been to Varanasi. And keeping in mind President Xi's interest in history and culture,

Since the Chinese leader is interested in history and culture the venue Mahabalipuram has been chosen and it is also a UNESCO heritage site in 1984. Over dinner on Oct 11, Modi will discuss the relations and connections between the two countries through the Southern part of India. Oct 12 will be the informal talks before Xi departs after lunch

Factoid

Chinese traveller Hiuen TsangHiuen Tsang visited Kanchi in around 642 AD during the reign of Narasimhavarman I of the Pallava Dynasty

Expert view

"Modi-Xi informal meeting provides a good platform for the two leaders to discuss tricky issues without any formal expectations. In international relations, we use the term "social learning" which happens more in an informal environment. Here the leaders are under no pressure to perform according to public expectations which often push the leaders to take hard-line postures" says Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU.

In his view, such meetings can be of immense benefit for leaders in understanding the political constraints from the other side. It’s is likely that the two leaders will not stress much on intractable issues like Kashmir or border problems, and rather focus on soft issues such as trade, commerce and culture.