Talks about talks – the different takeaways from the Xi-Modi meet

Published - August 28, 2023 02:32 pm IST

Following a conversation between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in South Africa last week, the Indian side said the two countries agreed “to step up efforts” for the disengagement of troops and de-escalation of tensions along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

On the other hand, China’s Foreign Ministry said China’s Foreign Ministry said President Xi told PM Modi during talks, that both sides “should bear in mind the overall interests” of ties and “handle properly the border issue”. Beijing also said that the meeting between the leaders, on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, came “at the request” of Mr. Modi. Informed sources, however, clarified that while India had sought an informal conversation with China, it had rejected a pending Chinese request for a more structured bilateral meeting between the two leaders, Ananth Krishnan and Suhasini report.

The exchange in South Africa is the second known interaction between the leaders since the start of the LAC crisis in 2020, and India and China have once again come away from their talks with starkly different views of their ties, The Hindu’s editorial noted. “The only ostensible reason for India’s reluctance [for structured talks] appears to be the government’s unfortunate prioritisation of political optics over public interest in its dealing with China, which has also led to continuing opacity over what is currently unfolding along the border,” it said.

However, Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi could come face-to-face again in Indonesia, if the leaders decide to attend the East Asian Summit (EAS) and other meetings with the ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) bloc of countries in September, writes Suhasini Haider.

China in the neighbourhood

Meanwhile, China and Bhutan have this week held the first meeting of newly set up joint technical team on the delimitation of their disputed boundary, as officials from both sides met for four days in China and agreed to speed up a boundary resolution.

President Xi has also pledged support to Bangladesh in “opposing external interference”, and promised to deepen economic cooperation, including through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In talks with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg, Mr. Xi said China was “willing to strengthen the synergy of development strategies with Bangladesh, deepen practical cooperation in various fields, push bilateral strategic cooperative partnership to a new level, and better benefit the people of the two countries.”

In Sri Lanka, coinciding with reports of the Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s likely visit to the island, Colombo said it was processing a request from China, for yet another research vessel to dock at a port in the country.

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