NEW DELHI: New Delhi and Beijing announced on Wednesday that Chinese President Xi Jinping would pay a two-day visit to India on Friday to hold a second informal summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, over a year after they first met in Wuhan.
The meeting will take place in Mamallapuram, a temple town located along the Bay of Bengal near Chennai, the capital of the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
According to the plan, the Chinese leader will land in Chennai on Friday afternoon and meet Modi in the evening over dinner. On Saturday morning, there might be some more discussions before Jinping flies to Nepal.
“At the invitation of Prime Minister Modi of the Republic of India and President Bhandari of Nepal, President Xi Jinping will attend the second informal meeting between Chinese and Indian leaders in India and pay a state visit to Nepal from Oct. 12 to 13,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
India’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that “the forthcoming Chennai Informal Summit will provide an opportunity for the two leaders to continue their discussions on overarching issues of bilateral, regional and global importance and to exchange views on deepening the India-China Closer Development Partnership.”
There was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the summit, with both countries not confirming the date until the last minute.
Political analysts said that it is unusual for such a high-level summit to be announced just two days before it is scheduled to take place. In April 2018, when the first informal summit took place in Wuhan, the itinerary of the meet was announced five days in advance.
The summit comes just a couple of days after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing with a high-level delegation.
The upcoming meeting will allow the leadership of the world’s most populated countries to discuss a range of issues and bilateral relations, which seem to have cooled after India’s unilateral decision to revoke the special autonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir on Aug. 5.
Beijing took an aggressive stance on Kashmir at the UN, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi saying in his address that no unilateral action should be taken to change the region’s status.
Jinping said on Wednesday he was watching the situation in Kashmir and would support Pakistan on issues related to its core interests, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
However, political analysts argue that there are several other pressing issues to be discussed between New Delhi and Beijing
“I do not think Kashmir is an issue. The main issue is to give a political narrative to India-China relations in future context,” said Jagannath Panda of New Delhi-based think tank the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses.
“I don’t think New Delhi would like to see China as a mediator on Kashmir. Both the countries realize that it’s better not to interfere in the bilaterally sensitive issue. Kashmir might be discussed and there is no doubt that Imran Khan’s visit to China holds importance but we should not take it out of the context,” Panda said.
He added that “the informal summit offers a broad political guidance to the relationship in the context of the influx at the geopolitical level, trade and tariff tension between Beijing and Washington, changes in the regional security situation including the tension in the South China sea and constant configuration in the South China quadrilateral relationship.”
Manoj Kewalramani of Bangalore-based think tank The Takshashila Institution said: “My expectation from the summit is very low. The fact that the summit has been announced just two days before it is taking place shows there have been difficulties. Over the last eight months, the relationship has been stressful.
“China wants to play the role of balancer between India and Pakistan but it’s a very difficult game to play largely because New Delhi will find it tough accepting Beijing’s position.”