President of China Xi Jinping will reach Chennai today afternoon to take part in an "informal summit" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the coastal town of Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu. This will be the second informal summit between PM Modi and President Xi. The first meeting was in Wuhan, China, in 2018, months after a 73-day-long face-off between the armies of the two countries in Doklam tri-junction in Sikkim.
The timing of this meeting is significant as it comes against the backdrop of a heated exchange of words between the two sides over the Kashmir issue following India's decision to revoke the special status enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. In the past two months, China on multiple occasions has sided with Pakistan as it tried to internationalise the Kashmir issues by raising it various multi-lateral forums, including the United Nations General Assembly.
A joint statement issued after talks between President Xi and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday said China is paying "close attention" to the situation in the Kashmir and that it should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter.
In its reaction, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said India's consistent and clear position has been that Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of the country and China is well aware of New Delhi's position.
Though the informal summit is aimed at the exchange of ideas between the two leaders without any formal pre-determined agenda, it is expected that PM Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping will agree on new security measures along the Line of Actual Control.
President Xi will be accompanied by top diplomat Wang Yi, while PM Modi's team includes External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval
MODI-XI MEET: 10 Key Points
1) PM Modi and President Xi will be aiming to prevent a further deterioration in relations during the informal summit in Mamallapuram, and the expectation is the two sides will move forward on a set of confidence-building measures.
2) The Mamallapuram are also important for the future of boundary talks between India and China. India shares a 3,500 km long border with China. Despite over 20 rounds of talks and a war in 1962, India and China have been unable to resolve the boundary issue. Unlike the Indo-Pak border, the Sino-India border has been largely peaceful, but there have been occasional stand-offs between soldiers from the two sides.
3) After his arrival, PM Modi will take President Xi on a tour of the Shore Temple, dating back to the seventh and eighth centuries, and will have several hours of one-to-one talks designed for a free exchange of ideas on issues ranging from territorial disputes to India's ballooning trade deficit with China and the question of allowing Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei into India's 5G network.
4) Chinese vice-foreign minister Luo Zhaohui was quoted as saying by the Chinese media that President Xi will have in-depth communication with PM Modi on issues that have overall, long-term and strategic significance on bilateral relations, set the tune and guide the direction for the future development of the ties.
5) As per sources, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong said a "new set of consensus", including "guiding principles" on giving a new direction to the bilateral ties, are expected from the engagement between the two leaders.
6) From China's point of view, the top concern has been the presence of Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile, which has been based in Dharamsala, Himachal Pradesh, ever since the Dalai Lama fled Tibet following a failed uprising in 1959. Ahead of the Modi-Xi summit, police in Tamil Nadu detained nine Tibetan activists who had planned protests during President Xi's visit to Mamallapuram.
7) A red-carpet welcome awaits President Xi when he arrives in Mamallapuram around 5 PM on Friday. The central and state have made all-out efforts to deck up the coastal town which had strong historical linkages with China's Fujian province.
8) President Xi will arrive at the Chennai airport around 2 PM and then head off to a luxury hotel. At 5 PM, PM Modi will take him to three iconic monuments of Mamallapuram -- Arjuna's Penance, Panch Rathas and the Shore temple. Then the two leaders will witness a cultural programme at the temple complex.
9) They will sit together in the lawns of the Shore temple and exchange views on charting a new roadmap of development and cooperation. Then, the prime minister will host a private dinner for Xi at the temple complex.
10) On Saturday, the two leaders will have a one-on-one meeting at the Fisherman's Cove resort which will be followed by delegation-level talks. After the talks, Modi will host a lunch for Xi, and the Chinese leader will leave for Chennai airport at 12:45 PM.