Xi, Modi won't let differences turn hostile

China's President Xi Jinping and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks at the 9th Brics summit in Xiamen yesterday.
China's President Xi Jinping and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi held talks at the 9th Brics summit in Xiamen yesterday.PHOTO: XINHUA

After border face-off, leaders of China, India hold constructive meeting at Brics summit

The Brics summit ended on a bright note yesterday with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreeing not to let their differences turn into disputes.

"Prime Minister Modi and President Xi Jinping had a constructive and forward-looking meeting on the sidelines of the Brics summit," Mr Raveesh Kumar, spokesman for India's Ministry of External Affairs, told reporters in New Delhi.

The bilateral meeting, lasting an hour, came after the Brics countries - emerging economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - held a dialogue yesterday morning with five other emerging markets and developing countries. These were Mexico, Guinea, Egypt, Tajikistan and Thailand.

The annual summit of Brics leaders, which took place on Monday, was nearly marred by a 21/2-month long stand-off between Chinese and Indian troops on the two neighbours' common border.

The face-off ended last week in what India said was an agreement between the two sides to an "expeditious" disengagement of troops.

Even before this, however, relations between the two sides had cooled somewhat over what is seen by India as China's expansion of influence in its backyard through Mr Xi's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that involves India's rival, Pakistan, as well as Sri Lanka and Nepal.

New Delhi had refused to participate in the inaugural BRI forum in May because one of the initiative's key projects runs through a part of Kashmir that is administered by Pakistan and claimed by India.

  • OUTCOME OF THE 9TH BRICS SUMMIT

  • 1. Adopted the Xiamen Declaration which reaffirmed the Brics spirit of openness, inclusiveness and win-win cooperation.

  • 2. Mapped out a new blueprint for strengthening Brics partnership and deepening practical cooperation in various areas.

  • 3. Signed four agreements: Brics action agenda on economic and trade cooperation, Brics action plan for innovation cooperation (2017-2020), strategic framework of Brics Customs cooperation, and a memorandum of understanding between the Brics business council and the New Development Bank on strategic cooperation.

  • 4. Highlighted the progress of the New Development Bank which is now fully operational and moving ahead rapidly with a large loan portfolio of projects focused on sustainable development.

    5. Served as a venue for China and India to mend tense ties after the two sides called off a 21/2-month long military stand-off a week before the summit.

Yesterday, at their meeting in Xiamen, the two leaders agreed to abide by their agreement in June to not let differences become disputes. Mr Xi and Mr Modi met then in Astana, Kazakhstan, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit.

The two men yesterday also talked about maintaining contact between defence personnel, important to ensuring that incidents like the recent one on the Doklam plateau do not recur, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar told reporters in New Delhi.

"Peace and tranquillity are a prerequisite for border security. Defence personnel must be in greater touch so such differences don't occur again," he was quoted by the Hindustan Times as saying.

Mr Xi, for his part, told Mr Modi that healthy, stable bilateral ties are in line with the interests of both countries, and urged that ties be put on the "right track", reported Xinhua news agency.

Assessing the meeting between the two leaders, Mr Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist of consultancy IHS Markit, said it would help to set bilateral relations back on a "healthier and more stable path".

Positive and constructive ties between the two largest economies in Brics "are crucial for the success of the future agenda of Brics cooperation and for Brics to play a leadership role for the wider grouping of developing countries", he said.

Mr Xi yesterday also spoke at the dialogue between Brics and the five invited countries, saying emerging and developing economies have been the primary engine of global growth and urging them to work to build an open world economy.

He also pledged US$500 million (S$677 million) for a South-South cooperation assistance fund to help developing countries deal with famine, refugees, climate change and public health challenges.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline 'Xi, Modi won't let differences turn hostile'. Print Edition | Subscribe