Indian Prime Minister to make a dash to China on April 27 to meet Xi Jinping

Indian Prime Minister to make a dash to China on April 27 to meet Xi Jinping

New Delhi, April 22 ( Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, known for his impromptu decisions, has suddenly decided to rush to China on April 27 to meet the Chinese President Xi Jinping. Modi’s visit will be from April 27 to 28, NDTV said on Sunday.

Modi was scheduled to go to China in June to attend the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), an organization floated by China and Russia for cooperation with  Central Asian countries.

But apparently the Indian Prime Minister wants to  fast track normalization of relations with China before the summit in a bid to have strategic and economic breakthroughs ahead of the Indian parliamentary elections in May 2019 when he will make a determined bid for a second term in the face of mounting challenges from the opposition.

The last high-level engagement between India and China was in December 2017, adds India Today.

Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is in China on a four-day tour. She held key bilateral talks today with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing.

Wang said the visit to Wuhan in Hubei province at Xi’s invitation would be historic and “a new milestone” in relations.

“We see socialism with Chinese characteristics entering a new era and India acts as a crucial stage in its development and revitalization. It is against this backdrop that President Xi and Prime Minister Modi have decided to hold the informal summit,” Wang Yi said.

Sunday’s meeting is seen as setting the stage for the upcoming visit by Prime Minister Modi to China.

The Wuhan visit is unprecedented as the PM will also likely be in Qingdao in early June for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.

Sushma Swaraj’s meeting with Wang was the first after he was promoted in March with the additional portfolio of State Councillor or top diplomat, which Swaraj confirmed will come with the added responsibility of taking over as Special Representative (SR) on the border talks with India.

Swaraj congratulated Wang on his taking over as SR.

On Tuesday, Swaraj will attend a summit of SCO foreign ministers.

“On behalf of the Chinese side, I once again offer congratulations to India becoming a member of SCO and warmly welcome the minister for representing India for the first time in SCO foreign ministers meeting,” Wang said.

Swaraj also conveyed appreciation to the Chinese side for their confirmation on resumption of data sharing on Brahmaputra and Sutlej rivers in 2018. She also expressed happiness over resumption of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra through the Nathu La route this year.

Coming Out of the Bind 

India-China relations went through a challenging time last year, when there was a military face off over a place called Doklam in Bhutan, whose security India was committed to safeguard.

But thanks to deft diplomatic moves by India and restraint on the part of China, a military confrontation was avoided and the two sides restored the status quo ante.

But the festering border issue, the  yawning trade imbalance between the two countries and other issues, needed to be taken up sooner rather than later.

India has shown keenness to arrive at a detente with China and has asked Chinese companies to invest in its fast rail project linking Chennai and Bengaluru.  Although China has not diluted its stand on any issue, it has said that China-India cooperation is a must for ensuring economic growth and Asian regional peace.

And China has said time and again that India must join its Belt and Road Initiative amending its stand somewhat to derive benefits from the project.