Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit India, likely in February or March, to bolster ties with New Delhi amid Beijing’s heightening tensions with the United States, a media report has said.
The Nikkei Asian Review, quoting sources, said Xi hopes to visit India ahead of the general elections due in May. It quoted an Indian source as saying the visit could be in February, while a Chinese source said it would take place after China holds its National People’s Congress in Beijing in March.
Xi is expected to discuss with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi measures to defuse border tensions, as well as propose deals to expand imports of Indian farm products and increase cooperation in advanced technologies, the Nikkei said quoting sources.
The visit, when it occurs, is expected to see the two sides work to take forward the diplomatic initiatives taken during the informal summit in Wuhan, China, in April 2018 between Prime Minister Modi and Xi Jinping.
The Wuhan summit had helped lower bilateral tensions, which flared in 2017 summer when troops of both sides squared off for over 70 days in Doklam, on the trijunction border between India, China and Bhutan.
Meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December last year, both Prime Minister Modi and President Xi had concurred that there had been a “perceptible improvement” in bilateral ties after the Wuhan summit and both voiced optimism that 2019 would be an even better year for India-China relations.
The expected Modi-Xi meeting would come ahead of the second Belt and Road Initiative forum in April. India has refused to join the BRI saying it violates India’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. The $50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
India did not send any senior official to the first international BRI forum hosted by China in 2017.
The Modi-Xi meeting could also see more Chinese imports of Indian agricultural products, including soybeans, Nikkei said.
Boosting ties with India could provide China an alternative supplier to the U.S. for advanced technologies, given India’s highly developed information technology sector, the daily said.
Worried that worsening relations with Washington might restrict the supply of critical components, Beijing has sought to expand connections in this field with its South Asian neighbor, it said.
Xi’s visit will also help China counter U.S. President Donald Trump’s Indo-Pacific strategy of deepening cooperation with Japan, India, Australia and other regional players to curb China’s influence. But Chinese military sources told Nikkei the Trump administration has yet to finalize its strategy, giving Xi an opening to dissuade Modi from joining the U.S.-led anti-China coalition.
Xi has also been working to improve relations with Japan, and held meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last September and October. (ANI)