Chinese President Xi Jinping and PM Modi to meet in Varanasi on October 12

Boat ride by Xi, Modi on Ganga is likely, similar to their sail on a lake in Wuhan

July 14, 2019 01:35 am | Updated December 04, 2021 10:40 pm IST - BEIJING

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping. File Photo.  ṭ

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Chinese President Xi Jinping. File Photo. ṭ

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are set to hold their second informal summit in Varanasi on October 12, as part of a fresh drive to energise ties following their meeting between the two leaders last month in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan , on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit.


A Chinese official who did not want to be identified said the decision to hold the second edition of the informal summit, following the Wuhan meet last year , is in tune with Beijing’s decision to celebrate the 70th anniversary of China’s diplomatic relations with India. Besides, it is based on the “consensus” between President Xi and Prime Minister Modi to raise China-India ties to a higher level, especially after the Doklam military stand-off in the summer of 2017.

“At the bilateral meeting in Bishkek, President Xi stressed that the two countries must celebrate the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic ties befittingly after congratulating Mr. Modi once again on his victory in India’s general elections,” the official said.


The details of the summit in Varanasi, Mr. Modi’s electoral constituency, are yet to be finalised. A boat ride by the two leaders on the Ganga is expected during the visit — echoing their half-an-hour sail on the East Lake in Wuhan last April. “India and China are ancient civilisational states, which will be the pillars of the multipolar world. This shapes the context of the meeting between the two leaders,” the official said.

External Affairs Minister, S. Jaishankar is expected to visit Beijing next month for the second meeting of the India-China high level people-to-people exchanges mechanism with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. While the focus of this mechanism is on people-to-people exchanges and culture, all topics of India-China ties, including detailing of the Varanasi summit, will be covered, except for trade and commerce.

The high-level mechanism is only the third ministerial level channel between India and China, apart from the one between the two Commerce Ministries, and the Special Representatives on the boundary question.

Railways and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal is also slated to visit Beijing next month to address the nearly $60-billion trade deficit between the two countries. India’s participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is also expected to be discussed during this visit.

Trade Worries

Trade deficit is now one of the top items on the India-China radar. Mr. Modi is understood to have raised the urgency to reduce the trade gap between the two countries during his meeting with Mr. Xi in Bishkek.

Faced with an escalating trade war with the U.S., the Chinese President affirmed that the trade gap between China and India would be addressed.


Nevertheless, India’s Ambassador to China, Vikram Misri, asserted during an Asia Society event in Hong Kong last week that the “trade imbalance is not economically sustainable in the long run”. “It is in our mutual interest to find workable solutions before the markets react in unpredictable ways and the issue becomes politically sensitive,” he observed.

The India-China boundary issue continues to impart background friction to New-Delhi ties. Described as a “courtesy meeting” on the Twitter handle of Embassy of India in Beijing, Mr. Misri on Friday met Hong Liang, the new Director General for Boundary and Oceanic Affairs in the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

While the Varanasi summit is likely to have an “open-ended” agenda, the Chinese side has been probing India on its position on Pakistan, including during talks in Bishkek. A Chinese official earlier told  The Hindu  that under the current circumstances, Beijing would be looking for a common approach with India not to blacklist Pakistan by the Financial Action Task Force — an inter-governmental organisation to counter money laundering and terror financing.

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