In what appears to be yet recognition of India’s growing global importance with the Modi government at the helm of affairs, PM Modi met the Chinese president Xi Jinping in Wuhan, China. The two sides seemed to be sharing a very good rapport on this visit. The two leaders interacted like close leaders belonging to strategically allied nations. This was an informal visit as opposed to an official visit with particular diplomatic objectives in mind. There is another dimension to this meet between the two leaders. Considering the visit is taking place in the fourth year of PM Modi’s tenure and general elections barely a year away, the grand welcome accorded to PM Modi by the Chinese Premiere demonstrates the faith that China has in PM Modi and the certainty that he will retain the Prime Ministerial seat after the 2019 general elections.
PM Modi was received quite warmly by the Chinese head of state showing how the Chinese have understood that in the present scenario they don’t have an option but to hold India and its Prime Minister in high regard. In diplomatic terms, the importance accorded to another nation is measured by how its leader is treated on a visit. Going by this test, PM Modi’s visit is turning out to be a milestone visit. In fact, in a rare gesture, the Chinese president Xi Jinping traveled out of Beijing to Central China in order to receive PM Modi and spend two days with him. It is for the first time that the Chinese president is hosting a foreign leader on an “informal visit”. It is for the first time that such a gesture has been extended by Chinese president Xi Jinping. The Indian side has also responded pretty enthusiastically to this rare gesture. Prime Minister Modi stated that people of India are proud that the Chinese president Xi Jinping went out of his way to receive him.
And the much awaited Informal Summit gets underway! PM @narendramodi warmly welcomed by Chinese President Xi on his arrival at Hubei Provincial Museum in Wuhan. The two leaders had a one-on-one meeting during which they exchanged views on solidifying our bilateral relationship. pic.twitter.com/aQzL5NS9xN
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) April 27, 2018
It is not only the Chinese president who has gone out of his way to host PM Modi but the Chinese media has also reacted warmly. A report by the state run Xinhua news agency in China opined that economic ties between India and China have become stronger in recent years. An official report even stated that a closer economic relationship is the topmost agenda in bilateral interactions and the two countries share complementary economies leading to huge potential for co-operation. Surprisingly, even the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has come out understanding the import of this visit. Its spokesperson made it clear that the PLA is ready to move ahead based on the consensus among the two leaders.
Warm and firm handshake! PM @narendramodi met with President Xi of China at the East Lake Guest House in Wuhan. PM said that people of India are proud that Chinese President Xi has gone out of his way to receive him twice out of the capital city of Beijing. pic.twitter.com/y2GlujcbLG
— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) April 27, 2018
Chinese seem to have come a long way especially after a tense last year. India had looked down upon the China first in Doklam forcing the Chinese to retreat and thereafter in the Maldives confrontation. As per a Japanese news agency, the China had posted its vessels in the Indian Ocean in the midst of a political crisis in Maldives. The vessels were supposed to act as Chinese influence in the region. However, Chinese vessels were compelled to retreat after a maritime clash appeared on cards and warnings by the Indian government.
However, such have been the political circumstances that the Chinese have been forced to interact with India. The main reason behind China trying to improve its ties has been India’s emergence on the global stage after the Modi government came to power. India is now interacting with the Chinese from a position of strength. China has seen, for itself, the emergence of bold and strong India that used reasonable force to foil China’s expansionist bids. At the world stage, even China’s best friends had not come to China’s support after the Doklam crisis ended in an embarrassing way for China. That must have sent across a message to China that India cannot be toyed with. Moreover, with the taming of North Korea and a truce in Korea, tables have turned against China. Strong policies under Trump administration have therefore hit China where it hurts the most. This sufficiently explains the sudden change in China’s tone from harping on border disputes to economic co-operation. As far as Prime Minister Modi is concerned China must be aware of his popularity not only in India but across the globe. Chinese diplomacy is famous for a long-term view and stability and considering that Premiere Xi’s tenure has been declared ‘term for life’, China is putting its faith in PM Modi whom it considers to be at the helm of affairs in India for the foreseeable future. This affirmation of faith in PM Modi led Indian government will go a long way in consolidating the cultural, trade and diplomatic ties between the two ancient power-houses.