The Chennai Connect

After the Wuhan Spirit, it was the Chennai Connect as Narendra Modi and Xi Jinping wrapped up the second informal summit which ensured that both sides had a much deeper idea of each other’s priorities and tried to resolve some of the bottlenecks that constrain the relationship.

In all, the two leaders spent about six hours together in direct discussions with an additional delegation level talks thrown in. Chinese ambassador to India Sun Weidong tweeted: “Dragon and Elephant have a tango.”

Xi arrived at Fishermen’s Cove in Mamallapuram on Saturday morning for a 50-minute tete-a-tete with Modi, continuing discussions last night. The two leaders took a stroll along the beach front. An MEA statement later said the leaders “had an in-depth exchange of views in a friendly atmosphere on overarching, long-term and strategic issues of global and regional importance.”

Terrorism as a global threat came up for discussion in terms of a shared challenge. “As countries that are large and diverse, they recognised the importance of continuing to make joint efforts to ensure that the international community strengthens the framework against training, financing and supporting terrorist groups throughout the world and on a nondiscriminatory basis.”

The two sides will set up a high-level mechanism headed by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Chinese vice-premier Hu Chunhua. Foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said it will look at trade, investment and services. Post-Doklam, the Wuhan summit resulted in Modi and Xi issuing “strategic guidance” to respective militaries to maintain peace and this time there was a pledge to deepen economic cooperation and tackle differences over trade.

A Chinese foreign ministry statement stated: “Under the current international situation, China and India are shouldering more and more important responsibilities in maintaining global stability and promoting development. The next few years will be a critical period for China and India to achieve national rejuvenation, as well as for the development of China-India relations.”

According to the Chinese statement, Xi suggested that India and China “should take a correct view of each other’s development and enhance strategic mutual trust. We should correctly look at the differences between the two countries and not let them dilute the overall situation of cooperation between the two countries”.

The statement said the two countries “should carry out strategic communication in a timely and effective manner” and look for a “fair and reasonable solution to the border issue that is acceptable to both sides”.

Xi, said the statement, called for “careful handling of issues involving each other’s core interests; improve the level of military security exchanges and cooperation”.

The establishment of the high-level economic and trade dialogue mechanism, he felt, offers the opportunity to strengthen convergence on economic development, and Indian pharma and technology companies were “welcome” to invest in China.

The last two suggestions were to “enrich” cultural exchanges and “strengthen” cooperation in international and regional affairs.

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