Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

India proposes reply to Wuhan


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SCO

Mains level : Wuhan Spirit

  • India has proposed that the next informal summit between PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping be held in October in Varanasi.

The Wuhan Spirit

  • The first informal summit between the two leaders took place in Wuhan in Hubei province in China on April 27-28, 2018.
  • The government saw the value of the Wuhan informal summit — no border stand-offs in a politically sensitive year.
  • Particularly, they established mutual trust and they jointly planned for the future of improvement and the strengthening of the China-India relationship.
  • India and China were currently limiting the threshold of their differences so that overall development of ties remained unhampered.
  • They agreed to significantly enhance efforts to build on the convergences through the established mechanisms in order to create the broadest possible platform for the future relationship.
  • They agreed to handle the differences through peaceful discussion within the context of the overall relationship, bearing in mind the importance of respecting each other’s sensitivities, concerns and aspirations.

Why Varanasi?

  • The choice of Varanasi is because PM wants to invite Xi to his parliamentary constituency, just like the Chinese President had hosted him in Xiamen for the BRICS summit.
  • More detailed discussions are expected to take place when the two leaders meet in Kyrgyz Republic capital, Bishkek, on the sidelines of the SCO summit in June.

Why informal meets are necessary?

  • In June 2017, just before the Doklam incident rocked the relationship, the two leaders had met on the sidelines of SCO summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.
  • The leaders had come up with the formulation that “differences should not become disputes” at that meeting.
  • After the Doklam border stand-off was resolved in August 2017, just before the BRICS summit in Xiamen in China in September 2017, the Astana consensus evolved in June 2017 was recalled.
  • The two sides had then discussed the possibility of the informal summit, the idea for which had been first floated in Astana itself.
  • Over the next seven months, the two sides had worked on holding the informal summit in Wuhan in April.

New peak of cooperation

  • The understandings between two Asian giants reached during the Wuhan summit — a new template for the leaders of the two countries to have a long meeting.
  • After the Wuhan summit, the armed forces of the two sides were given “strategic guidance” by the two leaders, and 2018 and 2019 have remained peaceful – without any major incident along the LAC.
  • Beijing — in a single stroke, by lifting the hold on Azhar’s listing as global terrorist under the UNSC 1267 — has created more political space for engagement between the two sides.

Way Forward

  • Many caution that the relationship is prone to ups and downs as was visible during Xi’s Gujarat visit in September 2014 — when Modi had hosted Xi while there was an ongoing stand-off at the border in Chumar.
  • Also, the issue of how India will respond to the Belt and Road Initiative ahead holds the key to the future of the relationship.
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