Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan, China on 27 April 2018 [Image: MEA, India]
Chinese President Xi Jinping is hosting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for two days in an informal summit likely to be dominated by discussions around reducing differences over trade and a long-standing boundary dispute.
Modi arrived in the central Chinese city of Wuhan on Friday.
“Our common interests far outweigh our differences. The two countries have no choice other than pursuing everlasting friendship, mutually beneficial cooperation and common development,” China’s State Councillor Wang Yi told reporters after meeting Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj in Beijing earlier this week.
“The summit will go a long way towards deepening the mutual trust between the two great neighbors. We will make sure that the informal summit will be a complete success and a new milestone in the history of China-India relations,” he added.
On Friday, the Chinese and Indian leaders had a one-on-one meeting accompanied by interpreters but no aides, according to Indian media reports.
Modi and Xi are meeting incidentally on the same day as a historic summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. North Korean leader Kim crossed a military demarcation line to enter the South for the first summit between the two sides in more than a decade.
Throughout the decades of conflict, China has maintained that the only way to defuse tensions on the Korean Peninsula was to hold diplomatic talks.
China has in recent months pressured both North Korea and the US to tone down the war rhetoric, which reached its apex at the end of 2017.
Meanwhile, the two Chinese and Indian leaders will hold multiple meetings over the next two days to discuss regional, bilateral and global issues, according to officials.
On Friday, Xi and Modi “enjoyed Chinese artefacts” at the Hubei Provincial Museum.
According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, the leaders of the two countries discussed “strengthening exchanges and understanding between the two ancient civilizations of China and India and promoting the harmonious coexistence and dialogue of different civilizations”.
Regional rivalry escalated last year as Indian and Chinese forces mobilised at Donglang/Doklam, a plateau at the tri-junction where the borders of India, China and Bhutan meet.
By the end of August, India withdrew troops from the disputed Himalayan border area, ending a tense 73-day stand-off with China.
But official relations between the world’s two fastest growing economies have come a long way since the two fought a brief border war in 1962.
China’s Commerce Ministry figures show India-China trade volume in 2017 rose by 20.3 per cent and hit a record high of $84.44 billion.
China is also India’s largest trading partner.
Apart from strong economic ties, Modi’s China visit this week is also aimed at boosting mutual political trust.
BRICS members China, India and Russia are the three largest shareholders in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), with a voting share of 26.06 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 5.92 per cent, respectively.
The BRICS Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund are all initiatives spearheaded by China for a new kind of global development financing.
India has partnered with China on both the BRICS Bank and the AIIB.
Modi will also attend a summit of the China and Russia-led security bloc, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, in June in China’s Qingdao.
TBP and Agencies