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2018 may be fourth consecutive year that will see Modi visiting China, meeting Xi

Anirban Bhaumik, DH News Service, New Delhi, Jan 1 2018, 23:38 IST
rime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. PTI file photo

rime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping. PTI file photo

With New Delhi and Beijing trying to mend bilateral ties, 2018 may turn out to be the fourth consecutive year that would see Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting China.

Narendra Modi is likely to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation's (SCO) summit which Chinese President Xi Jinping will host in Qingdao on the east coast of China in June this year, sources in New Delhi told DH on Monday.

Modi already visited China thrice since taking over in May 2014. He visited Xian, Beijing and Shanghai during his first bilateral visit to China in May 2015. He visited Hangzhou in east China in September 2016 to attend the G20 summit. He again visited Xiamen in southeastern China to attend the BRICS (a bloc comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in September 2017.

The prime minister's visit to China in May 2015 has so far been his only bilateral visit to the Communist country. He had meetings with Xi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during the visit. He also had bilateral meetings with Xi on the sidelines of G20 and BRICS summits in China in 2016 and 2017.

SCO summit

If Modi attends the SCO summit in China in June this year, he is likely to have another bilateral meeting with Xi on its sidelines. The two leaders will also have opportunities to meet on the sidelines of other multilateral events, which would be held in the third countries, like the G20 summit in Argentina and the BRICS summit in South Africa, sources aware of India-China engagements told DH.

Modi may also host Xi or Li on a visit to India in 2018. The diplomats of both the sides are also exploring the possibility of a visit by a senior leader of Chinese government ahead of or during the third annual meeting of the board of governors of Asian Infrastructural Invesment Bank (AIIB) in Mumbai on June 25 and 26. The AIIB was conceived by China, but was set up by over 50 nations, including India, collectively through a consultative process.

Tension over BRI

New Delhi's troubled ties with Beijing worsened further in 2017. Beijing was upset about India's opposition to the former's Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI) as well as the growing strategic convergence of India, US and Japan in Asia-Pacific. New Delhi was disappointed by Beijing's persistent policy of shielding anti-India terrorists based in Pakistan from United Nations' sanctions. The face-off between Indian Army and Chinese People's Liberation Army in Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan from June 18 to August 28 brought bilateral relations to a new low.

New Delhi and Beijing, however, tried to bring the ties back on track with several back-to-back engagements towards the end of the just-concluded year. Senior diplomats of India and China also held a meeting in Beijing in November under the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on Border Affairs.

The NITI Aayog of India and the Development Research Council of China held the third dialogue in Beijing on December 5. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had a bilateral meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi when he came to New Delhi to attend a Russia-India-China (RIC) trilateral talks on December 11. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval, hosted Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi for the 20th round of boundary negotiations in New Delhi on December 22. Doval and Yang are Special Representative of India and China for boundary negotiations and strategic consultations.

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