India, China set for “constructive” talks on G-20 sidelines

Modi is expected to play a prominent role in the discussions

September 03, 2016 03:26 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 04:05 am IST - HANGZHOU:

China's President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening ceremony of B20 Summit ahead of G20 Summit, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, on Saturday.

China's President Xi Jinping speaks during the opening ceremony of B20 Summit ahead of G20 Summit, in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, on Saturday.

World leaders from the G-20 group of countries have started arriving in picturesque Hangzhou — a traditional seat of Chinese culture, but also now an innovation hub — to commence an eventful session from Sunday, where the energetic impulses of a rising China will clash with those of known heavyweights, opposed to a radical shift from the status quo.

During the summit, the Chinese are expected to work towards cementing their position as the leader of the Global South, with a defining voice among the emerging countries, represented by the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa (BRICS) grouping.

To host meet of BRICS leaders

Chinese President Xi Jinping is slated to host a meeting of the BRICS leaders on the sidelines of the G-20 summit on Sunday morning.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who arrives at Hangzhou from Vietnam later in the evening on Saturday, is expected to play a prominent role in discussions, which take place ahead of the Goa summit of the BRICS countries next month, highly placed sources said.

During the course of the G20 summit, Mr. Modi is slated to hold separate talks with Mr. Xi. Sources said that the meeting would be held after new mechanisms have been established between the two countries, including a platform for talks between the Foreign Secretary and the Vice-Foreign Minister from China.

Issues to be debated threadbare

All contentious issues are expected to be discussed “openly and frankly” on this forum. These include China’s reservations in sanctioning Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Speaking to The Hindu , Hu Shisheng, Director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceanian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, highlighted that the “significance of the mechanism is that the officials will talk about all sensitive issues, in a very candid and frank manner.”

Mr. Hu added: “Do not bother the top leaders about these kinds of sensitive issues. It will only bring greater embarrassment.”

Special mechanism

During Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to India last month, a special mechanism has also been established that will focus only on China’s objections to India’s entry to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The Indian side has already conveyed to their Chinese interlocutors that New Delhi views the NSG as an “export control” mechanism, and not a “non-proliferation” initiative. Consequently, India’s entry to NSG cannot be tied with New Delhi’s signature to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) — the criteria set by Beijing — whose role is essentially to prevent the spread of atomic weapons.

Besides, it was impressed on the Chinese side that the NSG framework does not specify that membership to the 48-nation group is necessarily tied to the subscription of the NPT.

‘We expect constructive talks’

“Now that the new mechanisms are in place, it is unlikely that the two leaders when they meet in Hangzhou will go into specific details about the contentious issues. We expect constructive talks,” the sources observed.

India is also unlikely to raise the recent ruling on the South China Sea by an international tribunal at The Hague, during Mr. Modi’s visit, the sources observed.

Modi may meet May

The Prime Minister is expected to hold direct talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May and the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the G-20 sidelines. A meeting with President Barack Obama is “unlikely,” though the two leaders will be present in Laos to participate in the East Asia Summit that commences on September 8.

Analysts say that while the West is showing greater signs off insularity and protectionism, the Chinese, during the G-20 summit, would wish to be recognised as champions of globalisation, although defined by new rules that give greater say to the emerging countries and the Global South.

Earlier, in an interview with The Hindu , Liu Zongyi of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies stressed that the BRICS countries at the G-20 summit should speak in one voice in defence of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). “The United States would like to establish mega-regional agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), among a large number of countries in the Asia-Pacific and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union. That will naturally dilute the significance of the WTO, which is not in our interest,” he observed.

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