Modi reminds Xi accord to respect each other’s concerns

With Beijing’s stand on New Delhi’s decision on J&K casting a shadow over bilateral relations, Prime Minister reminds Chinese President that both sides had last year agreed to manage differences prudently.
Last Updated 12 October 2019, 07:38 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday reminded Chinese President Xi Jinping that the two sides had agreed to be sensitive to each other’s concerns and to manage differences between the two nations prudently without allowing them to turn into disputes.

Modi and Xi led Indian and Chinese delegations for talks on the final day of their second “informal summit” at a seaside resort at Kovalam in Tamil Nadu. Prime Minister recalled the consensus he and Chinese President had reached when they had held the first informal summit at Wuhan in central China in April 2018. “We had decided that we would prudently manage our differences, would not allow them to turn into dispute and would remain sensitive to each other’s concerns,” Prime Minister said in his opening statement. “Our (first) informal summit at Wuhan last year resulted in increased stability and added fresh momentum in our relations.”

Modi reminded Xi about the mutual consensus to be sensitive about each other’s concerns at a time when Beijing’s critical statements echoing Islamabad and opposing New Delhi’s August 5 decisions on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) emerged as a new irritant in India-China bilateral relations.

China has been opposing the Modi government's August 5 decisions to strip J&K of its special status and to reorganize the state into two Union Territories – not only to stand by its “iron brother” Pakistan, but also because it was concerned over implication of the moves on its protracted boundary dispute with India. Beijing perceived New Delhi's decisions on J&K as “unilateral” moves by the Modi government to change the status quo in the disputed territory and strengthen its claim – not only on areas of Kashmir under occupation of Pakistan, but also on 5180 sq kms of areas ceded by Pakistan to China in 1963 as well as on Aksai Chin – a disputed territory between India and China.

The two leaders commenced the second day of their “informal summit” with a tête-à-tête to continue the discussion they had started during the tour to the World Heritage Sites in nearby Mamallapuram, as well as over dinner till late in the evening on Friday.

They later led the delegation of officials of the respective governments for talks. PM Modi was joined by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale, India’s ambassador to China, Vikram Misri, and several other officers. President Xi’s delegation included Ding Xuexiang, member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Yang Jiechi, Director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and He Lifeng, Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and head of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Since the summit is informal, no pact was signed and no joint statement was issued after the meeting. The two sides will separately issue press statements later.

Modi took Xi around for a tour to the World Heritage Sites in the ancient port city on Friday, soon after Chinese President arrived to hold the second “informal summit” with him.

Beijing’s repeated statements over the past few weeks echoing Islamabad and opposing New Delhi’s recent moves on Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) struck jarring notes to the bonhomie that marked the relations between the two nations for almost one-and-a-half years after Modi and Xi held the first “informal summit” at Wuhan in central China in April 2018.

Yet the two leaders sipped coconut water together, held each other’s hands up and posed for cameras to send across the message that the “personal rapport” developed between them over the 17 meetings since 2014 remained intact.

Prime Minister and Chinese President on Friday also had a one-to-one discussion over dinner, which was expected to be over by 8:00 pm but went on till 10:00 pm.

“Yesterday, Prime Minister as you said, you and I had engaged in candid conversations like friends, heart to heart discussions on bilateral relations,” Xi told Modi in his opening statement at the talks on Saturday. Chinese President said that he was overwhelmed by the hospitality

The discussions on the first day focused broadly on the national visions and on ways to take the bilateral relations forward. Prime Minister spoke of the renewed mandate that he had received in the April-May parliamentary polls for economic development. Chinese President on his part said that he was looking forward to working closely with Prime Minister on all issues in the next four and a half years, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale told journalists late in a late-night briefing on Friday.

“Both leaders (Prime Minister and Chinese President) had a general sense that terrorism was a common challenge. They agreed to work together to see that radicalization, terrorism did not affect the fabric of our multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies,” said Gokhale.

Foreign Secretary did not reveal if the issue of J&K came up during discussion between Prime Minister and Chinese President on Friday.

New Delhi has been arguing that Islamabad was opposing Modi Government's recent decisions on J&K only because they “cut the very ground from under the feet of Pakistan” and created “obstacles” for the neighbouring country in continuing “sponsorship of cross border terrorism” against India.

Xi left the coastal city for Chennai at 12:55 pm on Saturday. He is expected to depart for Kathmandu by 2:00 pm. PM Modi too will leave for New Delhi soon after Xi departs.

(Published 12 October 2019, 07:18 IST)

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