Narendra Modi in China: PM holds talks with Xi Jinping, says he will be happy to host 2019 summit in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping on Friday opened their two-day informal talks in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. At delegation-level talks, Modi said that he would be happy to host the next informal summit between the nations in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had arrived in China on Thursday night for a two-day informal summit with Xi. During the summit, the two leaders are expected to resolve a host of issues, including the Doka La standoff. According to PTI, officials said that no agreement would be signed during the informal talks. Media reports add that there might not be a joint statement by the two leaders at the end of this summit.

Hubei Provincial Museum visit

Modi arrived at the Hubei Provincial Museum at around 3:30 pm and was warmly greeted by Xi. Both leaders took a tour of the site for about an hour. The prime minister said that the summit was aimed at "furthering India-China cooperation."

During the tour, Modi also visited an exhibition of Marquis Yi of Zeng cultural relics and treasure.

"India and China's cultural connect goes back many centuries and is reflected in present times through the popularity of Bollywood, Yoga and other aspects of Indian culture," MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said while sharing visuals of the cultural programme at Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan. Modi also rang the 'Bianzhong', an ancient musical bell at the exhibition. 

According to IANS, Modi and Xi also exchanged views on the two nations' relationship and communications between the two ancient civilisations.

Delegation-level talks in Hubei

Following the museum tour, the two leaders held delegation-level talks in Hubei. In his opening statement, Modi laid emphasis on the global leadership role for both nations, whom he described as "two major powers".

 Narendra Modi in China: PM holds talks with Xi Jinping, says he will be happy to host 2019 summit in India

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Chinese president Xi Jinping during their meeting, in Wuhan, China. PTI

"We represent over 40 percent of the world's population, so this is a meet between two major world players," Modi said, about the importance of the summit between the two leaders. "The economies of India and China have given shape to the global economy for 1,600 years," he added.

Modi also thanked Xi for the "warm welcome" he received in Wuhan. "I am thankful to Chinese president for the grand welcome and the fruitful talks," Modi said during delegation-level talks with Xi in Hubei.

"The people of India feel really proud that I'm the first prime minister of India, for whom, you (Chinese president) have come out of the capital twice to receive me," he added.

Modi also stressed on joint global leadership based on a new 'panchsheel' at the talks. "The five positive elements of this relationship are thought, communication, support, commitment and shared vision. These can be the basis for world peace and stability," Modi said. "China talks about a new era and I am working for a new India. World peace is important and both India and China have to work for the same and make all possible contributions," he added.

China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) struck a positive note about China-India ties ahead of the meet. PLA's senior colonel Wu Qian said to the media that it is a "common wish" of both sides to stabilise the relations between the Chinese and Indian armed forces. "Although the relations between the two militaries still face some difficulties and obstacles, we are willing to use the important consensus of the leaders of the two countries as guidelines to deepen our understanding, increase mutual trust, make proper differences, and continuously accumulate the positive energy of the healthy and stable development of the relations between the two militaries," Wu said, according to The Economic Times.

'Will PM remember his duty to protect India's strategic interests?'

The Congress asked Modi whether he will remember his innate duty of protecting India's strategic interests by raising the Doka La issue with China that impacts national security.

Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala asked, "As Modiji hugs his friend, President Xi, today in Wuhan, China, will he remember his innate duty to protect India's strategic interests and question China on the occupation of Doka La impacting India's national security?"

Surjewala said India is facing an increasingly aggressive China which is trying intrude into the 'chicken neck' — Siliguri corridor – by building a new road through the south of Doka La, and wondered why the Modi government is "clueless and incapable" to send a strong message to China.

Meanwhile, Congress president Rahul Gandhi called Modi's two-day visit to China as the one having "no agenda", but reminded him to raise the Doka La standoff. "Dear prime minister, saw the live TV feed of your 'no agenda' China visit. You look tense! A quick reminder: 1. Doklam 2. China Pakistan Economic Corridor passes through PoK. That's Indian territory. India wants to hear you talk about these crucial issues. You have our support," Gandhi said on Twitter.

What to expect ahead

While concluding the delegation-level talks, Modi said that he hoped such informal summits would continue between India and China. "I hope such informal summits become a tradition between both nations. I will be happy if, in 2019, we can have such an informal summit in India," Modi said, inviting Xi to India.

According to IANS, the talks will be more substantive on Saturday with a walk by the East Lake, a boat ride and discussion at the East Lake guesthouse, which was once Mao Zedong's private villa.

India and China, who fought a brief war in 1962 and have a history of mutual distrust, nearly came to an armed conflict near their border in 2017 during the Doka La standoff, taking their ties to a new low.

However, the "one of its kind" rendezvous between Modi and Xi at the heart of China seems to be a sign enough that the two countries were willing for a new start in their tense relationship. The meeting was an offshoot of Xi-Modi discussions just after the resolution of the Doka La crisis on the sidelines of BRICS Summit at Xiamen in China.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Apr 27, 2018 18:30:37 IST