Modi to host Xi at summit with ties strained by occupied Kashmir

Remigio Civitarese
Ottobre 9, 2019

"Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit India from October 11th to 12th for the 2nd Informal Summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Chennai".

Monuments like Arjuna's Penance, Krishna's Butterball, Five Rathas and Shore Temple will remain closed from October 8 till the conclusion of the VVIP visit. Strategic affairs expert Ashok Kantha said the summit between Modi and Xi in an informal setting in the midst of evolving geo-political power play in the region and beyond shows that both the leaders are taking ownership of the complex relationship. Hence, elaborate arrangements have been made as per security norm. The broad objective of the summit will be to find a broad pathway for future growth of Sino-India ties, they said, adding that there was no plan to ink any pact or issue any joint communique after the Modi-Xi meetings. While responding to questions on Kashmir, China's foreign ministry spokesperson merely reiterated it to be a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will be accompanied by China's Foreign Minister and Politburo members, on his visit to India, they said.

According to a person familiar with the developments, "our objective (through the mechanism of the informal summit) is to ensure that communication between leaders is one which is routinised, easy going and its one that indicates that President XI Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are getting down to business in an informal way not simply in a structured summit. but in a much more practical way of several hours of one to one discussion at which any subject can be discussed".

"Stabilising relations is important as both are seized with a number of issues - domestic as well as regional", he said. The delayed confirmation comes with less than two days to go for the summit. The two leaders had their first inaugural informal summit in Wuhan, China on 27 and 28 April 2018.

The "informal" backdrop of the upcoming summit, however, is expected to provide the two leaders opportunity to discuss the broad range of issues and the status of bilateral ties, which seems to have cooled after New Delhi's revocation of special status for Jammu and Kashmir in August. China supports Pakistan in safeguarding its independent sovereignty and territorial integrity, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday as he met Mr Khan.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang's comments marked a significant shift on what China has been saying on Kashmir in recent weeks in the aftermath of India's move to revoke Article 370 of the Constitution removing the special status to Kashmir. A closed-door meeting of the UNSC on Kashmir where China maintained the same stand ended without any outcome or statement, in a snub to Beijing and Islamabad. But more importantly, China refrained from mentioning the UN Security Council resolution and UN charter, as it had done earlier in its statements on Kashmir, including at the UN General Assembly last month.

During Xi's visit, Modi is expected to raise economic issues, including India's $53 billion trade deficit with China in 2018/19, and the smaller presence of Indian companies in China compared with other major economies.

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