Ending days of suspense over the fate of the proposed second India-China informal summit, Beijing has officially confirmed to New Delhi about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to India on October 11 and 12. An official announcement will be made by both sides on Wednesday, The Indian Express has learnt.
The official confirmation from China to India has been conveyed through diplomatic channels over the last 24 hours. This comes after a series of strong statements and moves that adversely impacted the bilateral space before the informal summit.
Beijing, too, gave positive signals on Tuesday through its Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s statement that China’s position on Jammu and Kashmir is “clear and consistent” to assuage Delhi’s concerns that the Chinese had made a departure from their stated position.
In Beijing, days after Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing had said that China would stand by Pakistan on the resolution of the Kashmir dispute and they “are also working for Kashmiris to help them get their fundamental rights and justice”, Chinese Foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Tuesday: “We call on India and Pakistan to engage in dialogue and consultation on all issues including Kashmir issue and consolidate mutual trust.”
On Saturday, India had lodged a “strong protest” with China through diplomatic channels over comments made by the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan on Kashmir, and “sought clarification” on what was seen as a departure from Beijing’s stated position on Jammu and Kashmir. Delhi viewed his comments as a departure from Beijing’s position of Kashmir being a bilateral issue between India and Pakistan, and as interference in India’s “internal matter” and “not keeping in spirit” with the proposed visit by Xi.
Kashmir, Pakistan challenge
chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit may be on but Delhi has its diplomatic task cut out —as long as Kashmir and Pakistan are the two key issues at the high table that any guest will have to deal with.
Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong, who greeted Indians for Vijaya Dashami on Twitter, said on Tuesday: “May all the obstacles get removed from your path and all your wishes come true!”
While he stopped short of announcing the second India-China informal summit in Mamallapuram, he, through his tweets, flagged two key issues, economic and trade cooperation and people-to-people or cultural ties between the two countries.
“With 2.7 billion combined population, potential is huge for Sino-Indian economic and trade cooperation. 1000 Chinese companies operate in India with $8 billion cumulative investment and 200,000+ local jobs created. Over past 5 years, China’s imports from India increased by 15%,” Sun, who took charge as the Chinese envoy recently, tweeted.
“P2P (people-to-people) & cultural ties are key to bilateral relations. We achieved a lot in this field, with 1 million mutual visits per year and 2 rounds of High-Level P2P & Cultural Exchanges Mechanism meeting. Let’s work for new highlights in culture, education, youth, media and sports exchanges,” he wrote.
A day earlier, Sun had said that the two countries should unleash the “positive effect of Wuhan informal summit” as they look ahead.
This was the first sign of thaw after the chill in the last few weeks. Sun had tweeted Monday: “Under the strategic guidance of our leaders, China-India ties made steady progress in recent past. Looking ahead, we should further unleash the positive effect of Wuhan informal summit, transmit leaders’ consensus to all level & gather positive energy for stronger bilateral ties.”
Sun, who earlier served as Chinese envoy to Pakistan and political counsellor at the Indian embassy in Delhi, had tweeted Sunday: “Since Wuhan Informal Summit, the relations have witnessed steady progress. Glad to see our leaders’ consensus be transformed into cooperation fruits. Hope more impetus for our friendship.”
Interestingly, the announcement for the second informal summit will take place just two days before the summit, unlike in 2018, when the announcement of the informal Wuhan summit between Modi and Xi was announced by then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on April 22, five days before the event on April 27 and 28.
For the record, China on Tuesday refrained from making an official announcement about President Xi Jinping’s scheduled visit to India and maintained that India and China have a “tradition” of high-level exchanges and said that two sides were maintaining communication on high level exchanges in the next phase.
This came even as Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan began his visit to Beijing. He is expected to attend the closing ceremony of the Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition on Wednesday. The Indian Express noticed national flags of Pakistan and China on poles leading from the airport late on Monday night.
“China attaches great importance to the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan. He will meet with President Xi Jinping, Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Chairman Li Zhanshu, and have talks and exchange views, and sign cooperation documents,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng said. Further, he said that China and Pakistan are “all weather strategic cooperation partners.”
“We have good tradition of close exchange and communication. We have strategic mutual trust and advancing practical cooperation. Our cooperation in CPEC is bringing more outcomes to our peoples,” Geng said.