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At summit to mend ties, Modi, Xi see common challenge on ‘terror’

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Indian host Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged at an informal summit to cooperate against “radicalisation”, India said late Friday, after the Asian giants with historically prickly ties had exchanged sharp words over Kashmir.

The seaside meeting aimed at mending relations after India irked China by its splitting of Jammu and Kashmir state into two in August. The decision will also make the area’s Ladakh region — part of which is claimed by Beijing — a separate Indian administrative territory.

India in turn has been enraged by China‘s diplomatic backing for Pakistan, which controls a much larger part of the disputed Muslim-majority Kashmir region.

But at their talks on Friday, the leaders acknowledged a common challenge, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said.

“Both leaders said that these were large countries and that radicalisation was a matter of concern to both, and that both would work together to see that radicalisation and terrorism did not affect the fabric of our multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious societies”, Gokhale told reporters.

Foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar called it “a highly productive day”.

Part of Beijing‘s Belt and Road infrastructure mega-programme is planned in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and Xi held talks with Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing just two days before meeting Modi.

When Xi said he supports Pakistan’s “legitimate rights”, India’s foreign ministry thundered it was “not for other countries to comment on the internal affairs of India”.

Harsh Pant, an international relations professor at King’s College London, told AFP that China‘s backing of Pakistan “has left a very bad taste in India’s mouth”.

A dispatch from China‘s official Xinhua news agency early Saturday gave no specifics on the talks but said Xi received a “warm welcome” from Modi and they agreed their countries “should respect and learn from each other so as to jointly achieve common development and prosperity.”

– Ancient ties –

India and China — home to more than a third of humanity — have never been the best of friends, going to war in 1962 and engaging in a series of Himalayan standoffs since.

The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader and long an aggravation for China, is based at Dharamsala in northern India.

Indian police detained Tibetan students who protested Xi’s visit.

In 2017, Delhi and Beijing faced off for two months on the Doklam plateau — claimed by China and Bhutan — when Chinese troops started building a road and India sent its forces to halt them.

However, the following year Xi and Modi patched things up in China‘s Wuhan.

Their latest meeting, over elaborate meals and dance performances at Mahabalipuram Friday and Saturday, is aimed at building on that.

The World Heritage site of Mahabalipuram is home to historical monuments that pay testament to India and China‘s ancient ties.

But since Wuhan other irritants have emerged, including a reported “scuffle” between troops of the two countries in Ladakh last month and Indian military activities in the northern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, part of which Beijing claims.

India and Washington, seeking with others to counter China‘s growing regional assertiveness, have deepened military cooperation and India has moved closer to the Quad security dialogue with Japan, the United States and Australia.

On commerce, India and China are both facing a protectionist America and want greater access to each other’s markets. Gokhale said the leaders talked about enhancing trade and investment, “and this also obviously included the issue of the trade deficit” Delhi has with Beijing.

China wants India to ignore Western cyber-security concerns on Huawei — already a big player in the Indian mobile sector — and allow the telecoms firm to be part of 5G trials.

Huawei’s “contribution to India’s economic and social development is obvious to all,” China‘s foreign ministry said this week, hoping Delhi would make “independent and objective judgments and decisions”.

Key issues for the Modi-Xi summit
Mahabalipuram, India (AFP) Oct 11, 2019 -
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China‘s President Xi Jinping will meet in the Indian city of Chennai from Friday in a bid to ease strained bilateral ties.

The leaders of the world’s two most populous nations will tackle “overarching issues”, according to India’s announcement of the meeting.

Here are key topics that the uneasy neighbours will find difficult to solve:

– Trade tussle –

India has repeatedly demanded greater access to China‘s markets in recent years and pressure has grown because of the rising trade deficit of about $55 billion in Beijing‘s favour.

India’s pharmaceutical and software industries have in particular lobbied for a more open border.

India wants trade dealt directly with China, but their talks will have an impact on the free-trade accord that Southeast Asia’s ASEAN is negotiating with major partners including Beijing and New Delhi.

Many in India see China‘s trade war with the United States and international scrutiny of its commercial practices as a window to raise trade concerns.

– Huawei battle –

India is one of the key countries where Chinese telecoms giant Huawei wants to establish its next-generation 5G technology.

Xi is expected to press Modi to give Huawei the green light to take part in 5G trials, in the face of US opposition due to security concerns over Chinese-made equipment.

Huawei is already a major player in India’s smartphone market but the government has yet to make clear its stance on the company’s role in Indian 5G networks.

Many Indian security analysts have raised concerns over allowing Chinese firms into strategically sensitive areas.

But India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar last week denied that Huawei was a “political problem”.

– Kashmir tensions –

India-China tensions rose again after New Delhi’s move on August 5 to revoke the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region also claimed by Pakistan.

China controls a part of Kashmir, which is in turn claimed by India. China‘s criticism of India’s constitutional move angered the Modi government.

The rivals have a long-pending border dispute in Ladakh — a strategic Buddhist-dominated region within Kashmir that is to be split into a separate Indian administrative territory under the changes.

Both armies frequently cross into territory held by the other side around Ladakh, which has China‘s restive Xinjiang to its north and Tibet to the east.

India has been a vocal critic of China‘s Belt and Road global infrastructure programme that includes a key project through Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

– Border bust-ups –

Besides Ladakh, India and China also have a decades-old dispute over Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian state bordering Tibet.

They went to war over the territory in 1962 and China still claims about 90,000 square kilometres (35,000 square miles) of land under New Delhi’s control.

The Buddhist and Hindu dominated region with dense forests and waterfalls is also home to many indigenous tribal communities.

In 2017, the neighbours had a high-altitude standoff in Bhutan’s Doklam region after the Indian army sent troops to stop China constructing a road there.

Doklam is part of a long-pending border tussle between China and tiny Bhutan, which counts India as one of its closest allies.

Modi and Xi’s last summit in Wuhan two years ago helped end the showdown, but Doklam remains tense.

India has held two significant military exercises close to its disputed borders with China in recent weeks.

– Diplomatic daggers drawn –

The two Asian giants are also competing for influence across South Asia.

Xi is due in Nepal on Sunday after these talks and their strategic rivalry can also be seen in projects and diplomatic pushes in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Myanmar and even the Maldives.

The two leaders discussed greater regional cooperation at their last summit but experts say little has changed since.

India’s worries about Chinese initiatives such as the Belt and Road project have bolstered its support for the Quad security dialogue with Japan, the United States and Australia that has been pushed as a democratic counter to China‘s more assertive stance.

India participated in its first ministerial-level meeting in New York last month.

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India-China summit confirmed, with just two days to go

New Delhi (AFP) Oct 9, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host President Xi Jinping for an “informal summit” this week, India and China confirmed at short notice Wednesday as growing differences dog the two Asian giants’ historically prickly relations.

These include Chinese anger at India’s August move to split Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state into two and at Indian military exercises in Arunachal Pradesh state, part of which Beijing claims. China has also irked India with its recent diplomatic support for Pakistan.

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