XIAMEN: Putting the Doklam incident firmly behind, India and China have decided to steer their relationship on “an upward trajectory” by enhancing mutual trust and widening the arc of convergence.
Don’t look back, look forward to a brighter shared future – this was the big message coming out from wide-ranging talks between India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Xiamen. The first talks between the two leaders, after the Doklam incident threatened to derail relations and plunge the two Asian giants into a military conflict, lasted for over an hour. The talks firmed up a new big-picture understanding to start anew by managing their differences with mutual respect and sensitivity.
“It was a forward-looking approach. The discussions were constructive and forward-looking – where the relationship is going and will be going,” India’s Foreign Secretary S. Jaishhankar told Indian journalists at Wyndham Grand hotel.
The Modi-Xi meeting reaffirmed “the Astana understanding” and underscored the shared understanding about not allowing differences to become disputes, said Dr Jaishankar.
President Xi stressed that the two countries should pursue “healthy, stable bilateral ties,” reported Chinese state media.
Enhancing Mutual Trust
Looking ahead, both sides will focus on “enhancing mutual trust” and interaction between their defence and security personnel to prevent recurrence of Doklam-like incidents. A new mechanism between border personnel of the two sides is expected to be set up in the coming days. India’s top diplomat also underlined that there was a clear acknowledgement by both sides that maintaining peace and tranquillity in border areas will continue to be critical to the future of this crucial relationship.
In essence, what emerged from the Xiamen meeting between PM Modi and President Xi was a joint understanding and resolve on how to take this relationship forward.
“There was a strong reaffirmation by both leaders on how to take the relationship forward. It was not a backward looking, but a forward looking conversation,” said Dr Jaishankar. These remarks clearly indicate that India and China have taken a considered decision to put a closure to the tension-ridden Doklam incident and move ahead on those areas, especially economic and infrastructure related, where there is enormous potential for enhancing win-win partnership.
The post-Doklam entente between India and China was more than evident in key outcomes of the 9th BRICS summit, including a robust joint declaration on counter-terrorism. Obliquely backing India’s concerns over cross-border terror, the Xiamen Declaration named for the first time Pakistan-based virulently anti-India terror groups, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish e-Mohamed JeM and Haqqani Network. “We deplore all terrorist attacks worldwide, including attacks in BRICS countries, and condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever and stress that there can be no justification whatsoever for any act of terrorism,” the Xiamen Declaration said.
Despite tensions engendered by the Doklam standoff between Indian and Chinese troops that lasted for over two months, the two Asian powers collaborated closely in bolstering the BRICS and aligned closely on issues such as reforming global governance architecture and enhancing intra-BRICS economic cooperation to spur global economic recovery. “There was a sense of mutual support among BRICS,” said Dr Jaishankar.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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