Trade war, terrorism on table when PM Modi meets Xi Jinping this week

China on Monday said President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi would likely discuss ongoing trade frictions with the US on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan this week, making a pitch for New Delhi and Beijing working together against trade protectionism policies.

Modi and Xi will meet on the sidelines of the SCO summit on June 12-14 and are expected to discuss the state of bilateral ties besides regional and international issues.

Speaking on the summit at a briefing on Monday, vice foreign minister Zhang Hanhui also made it clear that Beijing will not allow any third country – an indirect reference to close ally Pakistan — to be targeted on the issue of terrorism at the summit though terrorism as an international problem could be discussed.

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The meeting between the Indian and Chinese leaders assume significance as it will be the first time the two leaders meet after the Modi-led BJP returned to power in May; the two had met four times last year.

“Once again we congratulate Prime Minister Modi. President Xi and Prime Minister Modi are good friends. They had a very successful informal summit at Wuhan last year,” Zhang said at a media briefing here on the SCO summit and the Xi-Modi meeting.

He said the two leaders were “good friends” and referred to the 2018 informal summit between the two leaders at the central Chinese city of Wuhan where both provided “strategic guidance” for the development of bilateral ties following chill of the Doklam (Donglang) military standoff in 2017.

Zhang gave an outline of the Modi-Xi meeting’s agenda on the sidelines of SCO.

“While the details for the meeting are under discussion, I believe every bilateral meeting between President Xi and Prime Minister Modi is very important. From the Chinese side, we will make good preparations for the success of the bilateral meeting,” he said.

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Zhang said the China-US trade war and the “spectre” of emerging trade frictions between the US and India could become an important part of the discussions between the two leaders.

Beijing possibly hopes that India, which is also facing trade frictions with the US especially over the termination of its designation as a “beneficiary developing country” under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), would join the fight against Trump’s protectionist policies.

“Trade protectionism and unilateralism are very much on the rise. How to respond to the bullying practices of the US, its practice of trade protectionism this is an important question not only to China but also has a direct bearing on the recovery of the global economy. So I would say it will be helpful if the two leaders could exchange views and we hope their communication will lead to extensive consensus on upholding justice and opposing trade protectionism,” he said.

On terrorism, he said the “institutional building” of the SCO will be discussed that would involve economic cooperation and security cooperation particularly on counter-terrorism.

“Security and development are two major issues of focus for the SCO. The establishment of the SCO is not to target any certain country but the summit of this level will certainly pay attention to major international relation and regional issues,” Zhang said.

First Published:
Jun 10, 2019 13:32 IST

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