At the end of the two-day informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping, India and China issued separate statements. At 903 words, the Indian statement was the longer of the two; the Chinese statement was 714 words long. This is what they said — the common themes they addressed, where they agreed, and where they differed.
On the border
India has a more expansive paragraph on the border issue, which says that the two leaders have given “strategic guidance” to their militaries “to strengthen communication in order to build trust and mutual understanding and enhance predictability and effectiveness in the management of border affairs”.
The Chinese statement said “the two militaries will strengthen confidence-building measures and enhance communication and cooperation to uphold border peace and tranquility”.
Both used identical language on “maturity and wisdom” to handle their differences, a step forward from the Astana consensus that “differences should not become disputes”. But while New Delhi talked about each other’s “sensitivities, concerns and aspirations”, Beijing only mentioned “concerns and aspirations”.
The Indian statement said the two leaders “expressed their support for the work of the Special Representatives on the India China Boundary Question and urged them to intensify their efforts to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement”, and that they “underscored the importance of maintaining peace and tranquility in all areas of the India-China border region in the larger interest of the overall development of bilateral relations”.
China said the two sides had agreed “to properly manage and control their differences… through peaceful discussion”, and “to use the Special Representatives’ meeting on the boundary question to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable settlement”.
While India gave a full paragraph to this concern, using standard language, China mentioned it in passing, along with other issues. This clearly reflected a divergence.
India said the two leaders “recognised the common threat posed by terrorism, and reiterated their strong condemnation of and resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. They committed themselves to cooperate on counter-terrorism”.
China said: “Both sides agree to promote more active regional and international cooperation. They agree to join hands in offering innovative and sustainable solutions to global challenges such as epidemics, natural disasters, climate change and terrorism.”
On trade and economy
Again, the emphases were starkly different, clearly displaying divergences. India wants to make the trade deficit balanced and sustainable; China is focussed on investments.
India said, “the two leaders agreed to push forward bilateral trade and investment in a balanced and sustainable manner by taking advantage of complementarities between their two economies”; China said the countries would “tap into the full potential of business and investment cooperation, set new targets, harness positive forces, and explore new ways of cooperation to achieve win-win results”.
On more such summits
Both sides expressed the desire for more such informal summits. India said “the two leaders highly assessed the opportunity for direct, free and candid exchange of views offered by the Informal Summit and agreed on the utility of holding more such dialogues in the future”. China said they had agreed “to instruct their competent departments to work out specific plans and measures to implement the above consensus, and building on the informal summit, endeavour to open new prospects in China-India relations”.
On strategic autonomy, factor of stability
The two phrases are articulated differently, since the countries have different takes on them. India’s emphasis is on the region; China’s stress on the world as a whole.
India: “The simultaneous emergence of India and China as two large economies and major powers with strategic and decisional autonomy, has implications of regional and global significance. They shared the view that peaceful, stable and balanced relations… will be a positive factor for stability (and) agreed that proper management of the bilateral relationship will… create the conditions for the Asian Century.”
China: “Both sides share the view that the… relative power of countries is heading towards greater balance, and peace and development represent an irreversible trend… China and India, as celebrated civilisations, the two biggest developing countries and two emerging economies each with a population of over one billion, are important countries with strategic autonomy. A peaceful, stable and balanced relationship between China and India is an important positive factor for the stability of the world.”
On strategic communication
India has adopted this originally-Chinese idea in this informal summit. New Delhi’s statement said the two leaders had “underlined that… India and China have wider and overlapping regional and global interests, (and)… agreed on their need to strengthen strategic communication through greater consultation on all matters of common interest”. China said “the leaders of the two countries will continue to maintain strategic communication in various forms”.
On the global economic situation
The countries expressed similar concerns, but at different scales and magnitudes. Beijing was more direct in opposing “protectionism”.
India said the two countries “would continue to act as engines for global growth in the future”. Their leaders had “reiterated the importance of building an open, multipolar, pluralist and participatory global economic order which will enable all countries to pursue their development and contribute to the elimination of poverty and inequality in all regions of the world”.
The Chinese statement said, “…China and India will use their political influence and economic power to reinvigorate regional economic development…, work together to make international relations more democratic, increase the representation and say of developing countries and emerging markets, support the multilateral trading regime, oppose protectionism, and work for an open, inclusive, balanced and win-win economic globalisation that benefits all.”
On global challenges
While they may have different emphases, they two countries articulated common goals.
India said the leaders “agreed to jointly contribute in a positive and constructive way in facilitating sustainable solutions for global challenges including climate change, sustainable development, food security etc. (and)underscored the importance of reform of multilateral financial and political institutions to make them representative and responsive to the needs of developing countries”. India and China “should join hands to take lead in offering innovative and sustainable solutions to challenges faced by humankind in the 21st century, (including) combating diseases, coordinating action for disaster risk reduction and mitigation, addressing climate change and ushering digital empowerment”. The leaders “agreed to pool together their expertise and resources in these areas and create a global network dedicated to these challenges”.
China said the two sides had agreed “to promote more active regional and international cooperation… (and) to join hands in offering innovative and sustainable solutions to global challenges such as epidemics, natural disasters, climate change and terrorism”.
On closer development partnership
India: “They decided to strengthen the Closer Development Partnership in a mutually beneficial and sustainable manner, in pursuit of national modernisation and greater prosperity for their peoples.”
China: “Both sides agree to advance all-round cooperation and strengthen the China-India Closer Development Partnership in an equal-footed, mutually beneficial and sustainable manner to support their national modernisation.”
On the Panchsheel
India made no mention of the Panchsheel, framed by Jawaharlal Nehru and Zhou Enlai in 1954; in fact, Modi gave his own five pillars or elements on Friday: thought, contact, dream, resolutions and cooperation. China, on the other hand, said: “Both sides agree that the two countries will continuously enhance mutual trust, carry forward the fine norms enshrined in the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, a stellar example of joint initiatives by the two countries, and blaze a broad path of friendly cooperation between two great neighbouring countries, a path that can best meet the needs of the times.”
Both are on the same page, although the Chinese side appears more definitive in its approach. While India said the leaders “discussed ways to promote greater cultural and people-to-people exchanges”; China was more eloquent: “Building on the profound cultures of the two great oriental civilisations and harnessing the rich human resources of their combined population of 2.6 billion, the two sides will work to create a new boom in cultural exchanges by promoting people to people links and unleashing the vitality of the two emerging economies. For this to happen, the two sides agree to establish a high-level cultural and people-to-people exchange mechanism.”