Beijing: Ahead of the 2nd informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping, China on Wednesday struck a highly positive note, saying the meeting will provide guidance for bilateral ties and devise a "shared role" in regional affairs so that the dragon and the elephant can work together.
Announcing Xi's visit for the summit to be held on October 11-12 at Mamallapuram near Chennai, Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui said that the two leaders will have in-depth discussion on global and regional affairs.
Luo, who till recently worked as China's Ambassador to India, addressed a special media briefing even as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is leading a shrill campaign against India's move to revoke the special status to Jammu and Kashmir, held talks with President Xi in Beijing. This is the second informal summit between Modi and Xi. The first one was held last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which enabled the two countries to normalise their relations on all fronts after the 73-day standoff between the two militaries at Doklam in 2017. On Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the Kashmir issue should be resolved between Pakistan and India, significantly omitting its recent references to the UN and UN Security Council resolutions. Geng's comments marked a significant shift on what China has been saying on Kashmir in recent weeks in the aftermath of India's move to revoke Article 370. Highlighting the importance attached by China to the Xi-Modi summit, Luo said, "during the Wuhan summit, there was strong personal chemistry between the two leaders. Without the personal commitment from the two leaders this kind of informal meeting is not possible". ''So, for them to sit together to have any in-depth discussion in Chennai (Mamallapuram) and to discuss global and regional affairs so that the dragon and the elephant can work together, so that we can have deeper strategic communication that will help bilateral relations and practical cooperation between the two countries," he said. Their meeting "will also have a far reaching positive implications to regional and global development and stability", he said. Luo said that officials of both sides have made meticulous preparations for the summit through close interactions. "Now the solid ground has been laid. With the joint efforts of the two sides President Xi's visit to India will be a full success and set the tone and direction for further growth of bilateral ties and lead to new progress and fruitful results in exchange of cooperation between the two sides," he said.
"The meeting will once again send a consistent message of China and India to the whole world and inject stability and positive energy to the world that is full of uncertainty, he said. At Mamallapuram, they will reach "consensus" on their shared vision for the reform of the international system, shared "responsibility and role in regional affairs" and "provide and growth of bilateral ties and exchanges and cooperation," Luo said. Also, Luo dismissed reports of China's concerns over India's Him Vijay military exercises in Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as South Tibet. "We have no worry at all because that is not true," he said while replying to a question whether China is concerned that the exercises will affect the summit.
He, however, highlighted China's interest in furthering India-China Plus formula to develop a common strategy for Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan and Africa.
"One of the consensus of the Wuhan meeting is to carry out China-India Plus cooperation, because China and India are neighbours that cannot move away from each other," he said. "Both countries are major countries and their cooperation on international and regional issues is very important to the stability and development of the region and the world." Referring to the previous India-China agreement to train Afghan diplomats, Luo said, "We hope that China-India Plus cooperation is not only restricted to Afghanistan...We hope that China-India
Plus cooperation will expand to Nepal. We hope that the cooperation will be expanded to Bhutan." Skirting India's reservation over China's mega Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), he said China has put forward BRI "which is a major public good provided by China to the world". "We hope that our two countries can further explore connectivity cooperation including Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar (BCIM) cooperation," he said.
"So this is not just an India-China plus cooperation but China, India plus plus cooperation. I hope that our cooperation can even be expanded to Africa and we are not excluding any cooperation within this framework," he said. He said the summit will be a continuation of the Wuhan meeting. "Since it is an informal meeting, the two leaders will have a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere to have free exchange of views without fixed topics, he said.
"This is a new way of exchanges between Chinese and Indian leaders. This has proven to be very effective," he said but skirted reply to a question whether the two sides plan to sign any pacts. Luo said, "over the past year, the bilateral relations have enjoyed new progress, which shows the importance of the Wuhan meeting". After the Wuhan summit, "the two sides are having smooth, strategic communication and advanced cooperation", he said. "The border areas had maintained peace and tranquillity and practice has proven that mutually beneficial cooperation is very important to the two sides," he said.