Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to take their April meeting in Wuhan as a new starting point to promote bilateral relations. The two leaders reached the consensus during a meeting in the coastal Chinese city of Qingdao ahead of the 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit.
With Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy set to boost India’s role in the region, New Delhi is working hard to avoid being caught in the middle of the growing rivalry between China and the United States, observers said. That might have explained why Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared to avoid mentioning the “quadrilateral strategic dialogue” – a US-led grouping of four regional powers including Australia, Japan and India, also known as “the Quad” – during his speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security summit, in Singapore over the weekend.
Trust is an economic variable sounded like an echo swirling around Wuhan’s East Lake in China as President Xi Jinping was hosting last Friday and Saturday Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an “informal,” “heart-to-heart” summit.
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Central China, saying he expected their two-day informal meeting will open a new chapter in bilateral ties. Welcoming Modi’s visit to Wuhan, capital of Central China’s Hubei Province, Xi said in the past three years, he and Modi have established a good working relationship through mutual visits and meetings at multilateral events.
China will be keen to woo India away from a US alliance against Beijing when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Chinese President Xi Jinping for informal talks in Wuhan this week, diplomatic observers said. The two days of talks starting on Friday come as China faces threats of US trade action and India seeks to put its economic development on track ahead of an election next year.
Leader-led engagement may not have come a day too soon for India and China. Few major bilateral relations in the world have been as bureaucratised as the one between Delhi and Beijing. A handful of professionals on both sides now speak in a code that few of their own foreign office colleagues can understand.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit China for an informal summit with President Xi Jinping from April 27 to 28 in Wuhan, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. “We will make sure that the informal summit will be a complete success and a milestone in China-India relations,” Wang Yi said while addressing a joint presser with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Beijing.
Without a substantial increase in diplomatic capacity, expanding India’s engagements is nearly impossible. The MEA needs higher budgetary allotments, specifically for investing in capacity building in two areas. One, for increasing the number of Missions and Post abroad by enlarging the size of India’s diplomatic corps. Two, for investing in creating specialists who can present India’s case on global issues such as nuclear no-first use, climate change, data protection etc. After all, an investment in diplomacy has the potential to deliver disproportionate benefits for the Indian national interest.
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu praised one another for “revolutionising” the bilateral relationship, the nine agreements signed – on subjects ranging from cyber security to homeopathic research – suggest the two countries are finding it hard to match the heady rhetoric with concrete outcomes in areas that matter.