Ni Hao, China: Modi visit to remap India-China ties

Ni Hao, China. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to China promises to be a captivating show, high on optics as well as substance, and is expected to coalesce diplomacy, culture, business, geopolitics and outreach to the Indian diaspora. When PM Modi touches down on the Chinese soil May 14, the Chinese people can hope to see and hear an Indian leader who has a flair for using innovative methods to connect and forge a new narrative of win-win opportunities between the two Asian giants.
Ahead of his trip, PM Modi has struck all the right notes that should endear him to the Chinese leadership and ordinary Chinese people. He has become the first Indian leader and only the second world leader to sign on to Sina Weibo – the Chinese version of microblogging platform twitter. “Hello China! Looking forward to interacting with Chinese friends through Weibo,” said the prime minister in his first post on Sina Weibo.
A journey of a thousand miles, as a Chinese proverb says, begins with a small step. The two Asian giants have gone beyond inches and are now making rapid strides to clock MILES, what Prime Minister Modi has famously called the Millennium of Exceptional Synergy as they walk hand-in-hand in the unfolding journey of an Asian century. This is, after all, the journey of two and a half billion people and their soaring dreams.

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Five Takeaways Modi should target in China

Many Indian prime ministers have visited abroad in pursuit of national interests, although such visits to China were few and far in between, with five PMs visiting Beijing six times in as many decades. Some of these visits – by Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi and Vajpayee – have been described as “breakthroughs” for recognising Tibet and Taiwan as a part of China, with no reciprocal Chinese statement that Kashmir or Arunachal Pradesh are a part of India.

With PM Modi planning to make a trip to China from May 14-16, the first time an Indian prime minister will be visiting Beijing in the first year of his first term, it is natural – as PM Modi told his Chinese interlocutors – to expect “concrete outcomes” during the visit. For this visit to be successful, India needs to seek several clarifications and positive approvals from China on a host of issues in the realm of bilateral relations and beyond.

During the visit of PM Modi to China, there will be a lot of pressure in both countries to make this visit a “breakthrough’ in the bilateral relations. Such a breakthrough is quite possible if India clearly draws the red, amber and green lines of interactions with China, without falling into the binary trap of whether China is an opportunity or a challenge.

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