Friday October 18, 2019

XI AND MODI MEET IN INDIA

September 19, 2014

China’s President Xi Jinping visited India’s new Prime Minister, Nerandra Modi in India this week from Wednesday to Friday. This was the first state visit to India by a Chinese president since 2006. The visit marked a constructive period in the traditionally tense China-India relationship.

The most concrete manifestation of their developing relationship is in a series of agreements signed this week, including one in which China pledged to invest $20 billion in India over the next five years. This is a major development, considering that since 2000 China has invested about $400 million dollars in India. Based on the agreement, China will help update India’s railway system, build industrial parks in major cities, and ensure India has more open access to China’s market. China is currently India’s largest trading partner, while India stands as China’s second largest trading partner.

Prime Minister Modi, elected in May, views these investment plans positively, hoping they will offer the two countries a way to relieve the vast trade deficit between them. Furthermore, Modi sees this investment as an opportunity to revitalize India’s economy and create much-needed jobs.

Certainly, Chinese and Indian leadership understands the integral part both nations play in global and regional economics. They seek to capitalize on the economic advantages of having commercial partnerships with their powerhouse neighbors. Additionally, Chinese and Indian communications, chemical, and energy companies signed agreements to increase cooperation in business. Other areas highlighted for future cooperative ventures are space-exploration and the development of nuclear energy.

The two leaders remained friendly throughout the visit. Modi greeted Xi warmly upon his arrival, and on Wednesday, Xi took part in Modi’s 64th birthday celebration. Images from the trip show the two (Xi wearing a traditional Indian vest gifted by Modi) strolling amiably side by side. However, their warm interactions belied the tensions that still exist between the two countries and remained very much present during the trip.

On the disputed border between China and India, troops and civilians from both countries are engaged in a standoff, a miniature version of the more violent clashes that occurred in a border war in 1962. Border disputes have been constant source of conflict in the China-India relationship. The two countries have long disagreed on the precise delineation of the China-India border and clash frequently over territorial claims in the area. Modi has made it one of his goals as Prime Minister to resolve these border disputes with China, and said as much in meetings with Xi on Thursday. India’s new Prime Minister fully intends to see India assert itself in regional affairs more forcefully in pursuit of its interests.

A second source of tensions which demanded attention this week is India’s harboring of Tibet’s Dalai Lama. Tibetan refugees seeking Tibetan independence took to the street in New Delhi, shouting for justice in front of the building where Xi and Modi met, while smaller scale protests occurred elsewhere in the city. Although Modi has reassured Xi that India does not support such protests against China, their occurrence during this landmark visit underscores the magnitude of the conflicts that still exist between India and China.

Xi Jinping’s presence this week in India does illustrate willingness on the part of both China and India to attempt to iron out these issues. It does not, by any means, mark the end of the competitive relationship between the two nations or point to a friendly shift in Indian policy towards China. Rather, foreign powers are seeking out India, attempting to win India’s favor. As Time puts it, international leaders have recently been “wooing …Modi like teenage boys drooling over the homecoming queen.” The South Asian nation has been using the attention to its advantage as it weighs options.

This month, Modi met with Japan’s Prime  Minister Shinzo Abe in a visit to the island nation and received pledges similar to those agreed to by China. Japan has worked particularly diligently to court India, seeing the South Asian nation as a counter to China’s power in Asia. Further, Modi has been working with Japan, Vietnam, and Australia on maritime cooperation and defense agreements, threatening China’s attempt to expand its power in the South China Sea. Next week, Modi will travel to the United States to meet with President Obama for the first time.

China has been careful in recent years not to alienate India, fearing the South Asian giant might join Japan and the U.S. in attempting to contain China’s rise. However, with Modi as Prime Minister, India is successfully playing the field, protecting its interests while playing China and Japan off one another. Currently, India has the advantage, and neither China nor the U.S. can say with any certainty how India might try to assert itself as it continues to grow.

For more information on Xi’s visit to India, please consult the following sources:

BBC “China’s Xi Jin Ping signs landmark deals on India visit.”

Bloomberg“Modi wins $20 Billion Pledge From Xi Amid Border Flare – up.”

 

China Daily“Xi, Modi set formality aside, setting friendly tone for visit.”

New York Times“With Much at Stake, Chinese Leader Visits India.”

Reuters“China not warlike, says Xi, as border standoff dominates India trip.”

The Diplomat“Xi Jinping in India: A Breakthrough in Relations?”

The Times of India“Narendra Modi to Xi Jinping: India, China need to resolve border issue soon.”

Time “Why the World’s Most Powerful Leader’s Really Love India.”

Xinhua“Xi starts India visit in Modi’s home state.”

ChinaDaily (中国日报)“习近平在印度总理莫迪陪同下访问古吉拉特邦.”

Xinhua (新华)“习近平同印度总理莫迪举行会谈“

Compiled and edited by Molly Bradtke