Modi-Xi summit to focus on how to move beyond differences: Chinese media
As Chinese President Xi Jinping heads to India on Friday for his 2nd informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, official media here said their meeting would focus more on how to move beyond the historical and present differences to forge a cooperative partnership.
Beijing: As Chinese President Xi Jinping heads to India on Friday for his 2nd informal summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, official media here said their meeting would focus more on how to move beyond the historical and present differences to forge a cooperative partnership. Xi is scheduled to leave Beijing for Chennai early Friday and reach there by late noon to be in time with his 2nd informal meeting with Modi at the nearby picturesque Mamallapuram tourist centre.
About the summit, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui told the media here on Wednesday that officials of both sides have made meticulous preparations for the summit through close interactions. "Now the solid ground has been laid. With the joint efforts of the two sides President Xi's visit to India will be a full success and set the tone and direction for further growth of bilateral ties and lead to new progress and fruitful results in the exchange of cooperation between the two sides," he said. "Since it is an informal meeting, the two leaders will have a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere to have free exchange of views without fixed topics," he added.
Also no agreements were expected to be signed. Starting from Friday evening, Modi and Xi were expected to have several meetings, mostly accompanied just by their translators to discuss the way forward for the Sino-India ties which faced numerous headwinds specially over Beijing's backing to Pakistan's shrilled campaign against India over the revocation of the Article 370, removing the special status to Jammu and Kashmir. While Luo struck a highly positive note, a surprisingly candid editorial in the state-run China Daily on Thursday said it remains to be seen what the two leaders can accomplish in the next two days.
"The belated official announcement of Xi's visits to the country's two South Asian neighbours, (India and Nepal) only 48 hours ahead of the informal meeting, was proof that Beijing and New Delhi cherish the opportunity to improve bilateral ties through the personal chemistry between their top leaders," the editorial said. "That both Beijing and New Delhi announced the meeting will take place, squashed the earlier speculation that the two leaders would postpone any meeting and sent the reassuring message that they want nothing to get in the way of constructive engagement," it said.
"Xi's meeting with Modi in the southern Indian city of Chennai on Friday and Saturday is expected to focus more on the two countries' historical and present differences, and how to move beyond them to realise their cooperation potential," it said. "While it remains to be seen what Xi and Modi can accomplish in Chennai, the potential of greater bilateral engagement certainly supports a relationship that is far more positive than one that is just stable," it added. China this week appeared to have softened its stand on Kashmir, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang while replying to a question on the issue omitted references to UN and UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.
China whose traditional stand on Kashmir issue was that it should be peacefully resolved between India and Pakistan, started referring to UN and UNSC resolutions, after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi's visit to Beijing days after India's revoked article 370 on August 5. China also backed Pakistan's call for an informal UNSC meeting on Kashmir, which ended without any statement, and its Foreign Minister Wang Yi in his address to the UN General Assembly said "no actions that would unilaterally change the status quo should be taken".
Geng's comments this week raised hopes of China softening its stance ahead of the Chennai summit, but Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's visit along with Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and their meeting with Xi has drastically changed Beijing's stance. It is still a mystery why China worked out the visit of Khan just ahead of Xi's trip to India. In his meeting, Xi assured Khan that the friendship between China and Pakistan is "unbreakable and rock-solid" despite changes in the international and regional situation. He also said, "China is paying close attention to the Kashmir situation and the facts are clear".
A joint press release issued at the end of Khan's visit said China was "paying close attention to the current situation in Jammu & Kashmir and reiterated that the Kashmir issue is a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements." "China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation. Parties need to settle disputes and issues in the region through dialogue on the basis of equality and mutual respect," it said. India reacted sharply to Xi's references on Kashmir with the External Affairs Ministry saying Beijing is "well aware" of New Delhi's position and it is not for other countries to comment on its internal affairs.
Indian Government sources also said there was no question of any discussion on the issue as it is India's sovereign matter but added that Modi will update Xi on the matter if there is a query. On Thursday, Geng, however, tread cautiously, declining to go into China's stand on Kashmir in detail. Asked at a media briefing whether the Kashmir issue would figure in Xi-Modi talks, Geng said, "China's position on the Kashmir issue is consistent and clear". "On President Xi and Prime Minister Modi's meeting, we will release information in due course," he added.
By K J M Varma