The ugly trade war with the United States and its adverse economic implications appear to have prompted China to move closer to India and reset the bilateral ties with New Delhi. The forthcoming informal summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Wuhan in central China later this week could be an ice-breaking event. It will provide an opportunity for both the countries to put the animosity of the Doklam stand-off behind them and look to strengthen bilateral relations on the basis of new geo-political realities. There are indications that Xi will seek Modi’s support in dealing with the growing antagonism from the Trump administration over trade issues amid the possibility of a full-blown US-China trade war. The meeting is an indication of the growing realisation among leaders in both countries about the need to impart some momentum to the relationship by focusing on common economic interests rather than on the differences. Despite Beijing’s uncooperative attitude on the issue of Pakistan-based terrorism and its consistent opposition to India’s bid for entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), New Delhi has taken a pragmatic stand by supporting the World Trade Organisation mechanism, sending out a clear message of solidarity to China in its ongoing trade war with the US. This could be a significant factor contributing to the thaw in the Indo-China relationship. The restraint and maturity shown by India during the 73-day military standoff at Doklam, despite a string of belligerent statements in the Chinese official media, has set a positive tone in the diplomatic circles.
This will be the first meeting between Modi and Xi after the Doklam faceoff and is expected to cover a wide range of issues, including trade, economy, border stability, regional security and terrorism. There is no denying the fact that maintaining peace and tranquillity in the India-China border areas is an essential pre-requisite for the smooth development of bilateral ties. China appears to have realised the need to reset its ties with India and also strengthen regional cooperation within Asia to counter the growing protectionism in the United States. The Modi-Xi summit will help identify new goals and create a new dynamic for the growth of bilateral relations. As India and China represent the two fastest growing emerging economies, a healthy development of bilateral relations is important for the emergence of Asian century. Chinese analysts view the upcoming informal summit as a game-changing event as the two countries have the potential to shape the world for the next few decades. Stabilising relationship with Beijing is important for India as it would help in maximising the economic dividends from the world’s second-largest economy in the time of global uncertainty.