Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Explained: Modi-Xi ‘Informal Summit’


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Significance of such informal summits

  • PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping are meeting in the ancient coastal town of Mamallapuram or Mahabalipuram in TN.
  • The two countries convened their first Informal Summit in central China’s Wuhan in April 2018, where they exchanged views on issues of global and bilateral significance.

Informal Summits, why we need them?

  • Informal Summits act as supplementary exchanges to annual Summits and other formal exchanges such as the G20 Summit, EU-India Summit and the BRICS Summit among others.
  • It allows for direct, free and candid exchange of views between countries, something that may not be possible to do through formal bilateral and multilateral meetings that are agenda driven.
  • Informal Summits may not take place on a fixed annual or biennial schedule; they are impromptu in the sense that they take place when a need for them is perceived by the concerned nations.
  • Since Informal Summits allow discussion on wide-ranging issues, they are not particularly purpose-specific, and are sometimes considered to play bigger roles in diplomatic dialogue than formal exchanges.
  • This is the reason is that they tend to be more in-depth, and relatively flexible in intent and the scope of discussion.
  • The “institutionalization” of such Summits would help in strengthening the “strategic communication” between the countries, irrespective of the political party in power.

Continuing the Wuhan Spirit

  • For instance, in Wuhan, both premiers discussed a range of subjects, including the India-China boundary question, bilateral trade and investment, terrorism, economic development and global peace.
  • They succeeded in reaching a “broad consensus”.
  • China is not the only country with which India has had an Informal Summit.
  • The two leaders discussed their countries’ responsibilities towards maintaining global peace and stability, military and nuclear energy cooperation, and the movement towards an equitable world order.

Achievements of Wuhan Spirit

  • At the first Informal Summit between India and China held in Wuhan on April 27-18, 2018, Modi and Xi met “to exchange views on overarching issues of bilateral and global importance.
  • It aimed to elaborate their respective visions and priorities for national development in the context of the current and future international situation.
  • The Wuhan Summit achieved a “re-set” of the Sino-Indian relationship after the two-month long border standoff at the India-China-Bhutan tri-junction in Doklam.
  • Significantly, at Wuhan, the two leaders decided to give “strategic guidance” to their military, so that issues did not escalate as in the case of the Doklam standoff.
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