Xi Jinping likely to visit India in February or March: media reports

Xi Jinping likely to visit India

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit India before March, ahead of general elections, to build ties with New Delhi to counter the headwinds blowing from Washington, according to a media report.

The Nikkei Asian Review, quoting its sources in New Delhi and Beijing, said that the visit could take place in February at the earliest or March after the annual session in Beijing of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s Parliament.

“(Mr.) 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 daily said.

Diplomatic sources told The Hindu that after the success of the Wuhan informal summit between the two leaders last April, India and China are rapidly narrowing their differences on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed Asia centered giant Free Trade Agreement among the 10 ASEAN countries and the six big economies — China, Japan, India, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Analysts say that in case it materialises, the RCEP will trigger a structural shift in the global economy, marked by a consolidation of the Indo-Pacific economies, minus the United States.

On Tuesday, the Indian embassy in Beijing said in a statement that visiting Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan “discussed progress made under RCEP negotiations and efforts to strengthen bilateral trade with his counterpart Wang Shouwen, Vice Minister of China’s Ministry of Commerce.” Sudhanshu Pandey, India’s chief negotiator for RCEP accompanied Mr. Wadhawan at the talks.

‘Xi visit to help Modi’ ::

According to the Nikkei report, the meeting between Mr. Xi and Mr.Modi could help the Prime Minister domestically as it would be “a golden opportunity to show voters a diplomatic victory ahead of an election (in May) in which he (is) likely faces an uphill fight.”

“President Xi’s visit, which would be a follow up to the Wuhan summit would likely yield some agreements which Prime Minister Modi could project as a diplomatic victory to help him win the elections,” Long Xingchun, Associate Professor of China’s West Normal University told The Hindu.

The dialogue would also feed into the big picture of the China-US tensions on agri-products and technology. “The meeting also could result in more Chinese imports of Indian agricultural products, including soybeans. Bolstering ties with New Delhi could provide China an alternative supplier to the U.S. for advanced technologies, given India’s highly developed information technology sector,” the Nikkei report said.

The daily stressed that Mr. 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.

The dialogue is also likely to touch upon India’s reluctance to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Amid the heightening tensions with the U.S., sections of the Chinese state media are also focusing on the need to build bridges with India.

A Tuesday op-ed in the state-run Global Times concluded that “China and India have overcome strategic distrust to advance bilateral relations.” Having overcome the Doklam military standoff of 2017, the “positive momentum (in the relationship) is expected to continue this year.”

The article advised India not to be “lured” by the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy to contain “China’s rise”.


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