India is anytime soon likely to announce a special envoy for border talks with China during the forthcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Speculations are in the air that former foreign secretary Shyam Saran could be tapped for this important job. As told by the sources, India is keen to work out a quick border settlement which is based on the ‘Guiding Principles’ signed in 2005.
Xi will also be visiting Maldives and Sri Lanka before touching down in India. India will be keeping a close on the visits in these two countries. India renewing its focus on its neighbouring countries did not go unnoticed as China and Japan too reiterated their interest in South Asia.
India has an overwhelming presence in Maldives, where China is the only country with a full embassy. Also, Maldives have more Chinese citizens for vacation than Indians who are discouraged by the costs.
Sri Lanka, that has been at the receiving end from India, will be welcoming Xi next week after just having hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. China has a growing presence in Sri Lanka; building port infrastructure and the famous Hambantota port is believed to be one of the “string of pearls”.
It is being noticed that China has decided to keep Xi Jinping away from Pakistan. Chinese media have given several reasons why Xi has kept Pakistan out of his itinerary. The first reason, China did not want to be a part of the ongoing conflict especially if Sharif is expelled. Second reason, Pakistan is too preoccupied with its internal crisis. However, Pakistan did offer other cities for Xi’s visit but they did not pass muster. The third reason is that China may be reconsidering the $34 billion economic deals planned, particularly if the Pakistani government appears to be unstable. However, the delay in his visit would not be affecting the quality of the bilateral relationship, often described as “all weather”.
Xi’s visit to New Delhi will not only have a strong economic component but will also send out the message that it does not seek to “encircle” or “contain” India. The Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Liu Jianchao, in remarks to news agencies, said that the leaders of China and India had pledged to work together to manage and control their differences. He also added that they shared common interests as large developing countries. Liu told a news briefing, “India is a country with which China has been friendly for thousands of years.” He added, “China has never, and will not, use so-called military or other means to try and hem in India.” He also said, “There is no strategic competition between China and India in our relationship and there is certainly no such word as ‘surround’.”
The Chinese president on Tuesday talked about strengthening ties with India He told the visiting National Security Advisor Ajit Doval that he was looking forward to meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his maiden visit to India.
Xi’s visit to India has been finalised by top Indian and Chinese officials that includes the programme and discussions on key issues, amid indications that he may begin his tour in Modi’s home state of Gujarat on September 16. The schedule of next week’s visit is still not revealed, final touches of which were given by Doval who met Xi and handed over a personal letter from Modi.