Indian premier Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping have concluded an informal summit in China. The meeting is being seen as a landmark in the rivals’ bilateral relationship.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up an informal summit on Saturday that China has described as a milestone in bilateral relations, after a recent border dispute rekindled fears of a war between the two Asian nations.
Modi spent just 24 hours in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, holding long talks with Xi on Friday that were continued on Saturday. The Indian leader also went on an hour-long boat ride with the Chinese president.
India Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said after the talks that the two leaders had agreed dialogue was the way to deal with all the differences between the regional rivals, including the dispute over their high-altitude border in the western Himalayas.
“On the issue of the India-China boundary question, the two leaders endorsed the work of the special representatives in their efforts to find a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement,” Gokhale said, adding that Modi and Xi had also agreed that it was “important to maintain peace and tranquillity in all areas of the India-China border region.”
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Tensions over ‘Belt and Road’
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou echoed Gokhale’s comments, saying both countries wanted a fair settlement to the dispute.
He said the two leaders had also agreed to enhance military and security communication mechanisms.
In addition, he said that China did not think it was important whether India accepted China’s Belt and Road infrastructure project and China would not force it to.
New Delhi has so far shown little willingness to engage in the initiative, with which Beijing aims to connect its economy with those in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe by means of huge loans and investments.
Not always the best of friends
China-India relations have been under considerable strain as the two nations compete for leadership in Asia.
They also continue to wrangle over territory in India’s northeast claimed by Beijing, and a Chinese-held region on the Aksai Chin Plateau in the western Himalayas that India says belongs to it.
Tensions also flared up last year on the Doklam Plateau on the border between China, India and Bhutan, with troops dispatched from both sides and facing off for months after China attempted to build a road there.
The two countries even went to war in 1962 amid a dispute over their 3,500-kilometer (2,200-mile) Himalayan border.
In addition, New Delhi is suspicious of China’s moves to build ties with India’s longtime rival Pakistan. China, in its turn, objects to the fact that the Dalai Lama and other exiles from Tibet have been taken in by India.
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tj/jm (Reuters, AP)