India-China relations are thawing after a series of border skirmishes, but Xi is determined not to let those issues get in the way of fostering friendly bilateral relationships with its neighbours.
So Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi set off to China on April 27 and 28 for an informal meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping over border issues. The two countries have agreed on maintaining peace in the Himalayan border, according to India’s foreign secretary.
The two heads of state met in Wuhan, a city in central China, to discuss a dispute over a portion of the Himalayan border, which has lasted for months. The dispute has also given rise to the possibility that conflict may yet break out between the two nations.
Delighted to meet President Xi Jinping in Wuhan. Our talks were extensive and fruitful. We deliberated on stronger India-China relations as well as other global issues. pic.twitter.com/1lfcDp4jRM
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 27, 2018
Vijay Gokhale, the Foreign Secretary of India, announced to the press after the meetings that Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi are in agreement about their two countries’ ability to handle their differences peaceably via inter-country talks.
Mr. Gokhale said, “On the issue of the India-China boundary question, the two leaders endorsed the work of the special representatives in their efforts to find a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement. And the two leaders also underscored that in the meantime it is important to maintain peace and tranquillity in all areas of the India-China border region.”
President Xi to PM Modi: in my over 5-year presidency, I have only gone out of Beijing twice to receive foreign guests. Once in Xi’an in 2015, the other is today, Both for you. This shows how much President Xi values his personal friendship with PM Modi and China-India relations. pic.twitter.com/OSXs7JycxS
— Luo Zhaohui (@China_Amb_India) April 28, 2018
Both countries called the encounter between the two leaders as an “informal meeting” rather than a summit, as it was unattended by the usual fanfare of state visits, and the two leaders personally talked for many hours on Friday, April 27. The Chinese President also took Mr. Modi on a tour of an important museum in Wuhan.
State-ruled media in China were all praises for the tone of the meeting, showing a big photo of the two leaders shaking hands on the front page of the People’s Daily on April 28th.
In a commentary it said, “There is reason to believe that this Wuhan meeting will increase mutual trust, manage and control disputes, deepen cooperation and lead to a new phase in China-India relations. It is quite clear that strategic agreement between the two countries far exceeds the specific differences, and the need for cooperation far exceeds local friction.”
The newspaper also called India and China as “natural partners.”
However, there are considerable differences between the two countries that must be taken into account. Aside from the 3,500 kilometer border between China and India that has led to trouble in the past, there are also disputes over the Indian Ocean and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
India has not been happy with the initiative, since one of its major arteries will pass Kashmir, which is under Pakistan. India is understandably wary of Pakistan and China’s special relationship.
And China, on its part, is closely watching the US’ initiative to bring India into a maritime “quad,” along with Australia and Japan, and is keeping a close eye India’s friendly ties with the Dalai Lama and other Tibetans who are in exile.
— Rishabh Malhotra (@RishabhLP) April 23, 2018