Modi-Xi summit: China again moots good-neighbourly pact with India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping are likely to discuss a set of new measures to avert flashpoints along the disputed India-China boundary. (PTI file photo)

China has renewed its proposal for a Treaty for Good Neighbourly and Friendly Cooperation with India, as both sides look forward to the summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week.

With Modi and Xi likely to hold an “informal summit” at Wuhan in central China on Friday and Saturday, both New Delhi and Beijing expects a reset in ties, which hit a new low with the 72-day long military face-off between Indian Army and Chinese People’s Liberation Army at Doklam Plateau in western Bhutan.

Prime Minister and Chinese president are likely to discuss a set of new measures to avert flashpoints along the disputed India-China boundary.

Modi and Xi may also explore the possibility of a bilateral Treaty for Good Neighbourly and Friendly Cooperation, sources told the DH in New Delhi.

Beijing had in January 2017 first mooted the proposal for an India-China Treaty for Friendship and Cooperation.

New Delhi had remained non-committal but had sought to know the details of what the proposed treaty had envisaged.

With India’s refusal to join the Belt-and-Road conclave hosted by China in May 2017 and the face-off at Doklam Plateau adding to the strains in ties, no further discussion on the proposal could take place last year.

China of late renewed its offer to India, re-packaging the proposed pact as Treaty for Good Neighbourly and Friendly Cooperation.

The proposal returned to the table, as efforts to mend ties got momentum with Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale’s meetings with his counterpart in Chinese government’s ministry of foreign affairs, Kong Xuanyou, in Beijing in February and in New Delhi earlier this month.

While the forthcoming Modi-Xi summit may not result in the signing of any agreement, they are likely to set the direction for future engagement for India and China.

“The leaders may discuss and take calls on the proposals, including the one for Treaty for Good Neighbourly and Friendly Cooperation,” said a source, aware of the preparation for the informal summit by Prime Minister and Chinese president.

Another source told the DH that Modi and Xi would also discuss a new set of confidence-building measures to maintain peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control – the de facto boundary between India and China.

Beijing proposed to upgrade the 2013 India-China Border Defence Cooperation Agreement with a new Code of Conduct for the troops guarding the LAC.

New Delhi conveyed to Beijing that while it was not averse to any measure to maintain peace along the LAC till the settlement of the boundary dispute, it would not sign any pact that would restrict its sovereign right to build infrastructure in border areas, added the source.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi on the sideline of a meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Beijing on Sunday.

They together announced that Prime Minister Modi and the Chinese president will hold an informal summit in Wuhan on Friday and Saturday.

Sushma and Wang had held a bilateral meeting in New Delhi on the sideline of a Russia-India-China trilateral meeting in December 2017.

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