India does not expect to discuss the Kashmir issue or the recent reorganisation of the state at the second informal summit with China that gets underway on October 11, with people familiar with developments saying the meeting will focus on giving strategic guidance to the overall bilateral relationship.
After weeks of speculation against the backdrop of irritants in India-China ties, the two countries formally announced on Wednesday that the informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping will be held at the seaside resort of Mamallapuram during October 11-12.
Bilateral ties have been hit by China’s position on the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, Beijing’s concerns about a military exercise underway in Arunachal Pradesh and remarks made by the Chinese envoy to Islamabad that appeared to back Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir issue.
The scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Constitution and the reorganisation of the state is a sovereign matter and will not be discussed at the summit, said people familiar with planning for the meeting. If the matter is raised by Xi, the Indian side will explain and outline its official position, they said.
The summit, the people said, will be about building contacts at the highest level, and exchanging views on regional and global strategic issues so that a broad pathway can be created for taking forward bilateral ties.
The informal summit will be completely unstructured and there will be no signing of documents or a joint communiqué, though the two leaders – who are meeting for the third time this year – are expected to discuss additional confidence-building measures (CBMs) for peace and tranquillity on the border, trade and the deficit of more than $50 billion that has become a concern for India, the Indo-Pacific, reforms of the UN, and selective actions by countries that are affected global bodies such as the WTO.
The people acknowledged that India has some issues with almost all countries, such as trade differences with the US, but said New Delhi hadn’t taken any actions or decisions to cause concern to the Chinese side.
Referring to the Chinese opposition to the creation of a union territory comprising Ladakh, the people said both India and China have differing perceptions of the boundary but these haven’t been changed by the creation of the new union territory.
The people dismissed speculation about the holding of the summit, describing it as “needless” and said there had been a clear confirmation about the meet for a number of weeks, though the event was formally announced just a couple of days earlier.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s two-day visit to China, just three days before the informal summit, isn’t seen as “any kind of hyphenation” by India as the meeting between Modi and Xi will go “beyond a one-issue summit” and cover a swathe of bilateral, regional and global issues, the people said.
After Xi and his delegation arrive in Chennai in the afternoon of October 11, Modi will take the Chinese president around several temples and other structures at the world heritage site and explain to him the trade and other links between Tamil Nadu and China going back several centuries. Modi will also host a private dinner for Xi at the site.
The following day, the two leaders will meet for one-on-one and delegation-level talks at a beachfront resort in Mamallapuram. Modi will also host lunch for Xi, during which they will have further discussions.