India-China talks: different venue, same outcome?

Published: Fri 11 Oct 2019, 9:46 PM

Last updated: Fri 11 Oct 2019, 11:48 PM

The first informal meeting between Prime Minister Modi and China's President Xi Jinping was held in Wuhan, China against the backdrop of the Doklam standoff in 2017. Both leaders agreed then that they would continue the new format of talks to strengthen India-China relations. This time the informal meeting is scheduled to be held on October 11-12 in the ancient Tamil town of Mamallapuram.
The selection of Xi'an - in Shaanxi, Xi's home state - as the venue for the informal summit was in return for Modi hosting Xi in Ahmedabad in his home state of Gujarat.
These curated meetings and events in India-China relations serve specific short-term tasks and thereby fall short on changing the overall narrative and policy directions of both governments.
This 'new venue'-centric act in the India-China opera is taking place under the shadow of changing regional and global politics. The venue keeps changing but the terrain of talks remains the same. In Xi'an, China was looking at India as an uninvited guest in Doklam.
Today, the situation is reverse. In Mamallapuram, New Delhi has said Beijing's responses to Kashmir are irksome and intrusive.
Moreover, India has not changed its stance on China's Belt Road Initiative (BRI).
Moreover, the foreign ministers of the Quad countries - India, Australia, Japan and the United States - met on the sidelines of UN General Assembly last month and "reaffirmed their commitment to shared values and cooperation on maritime security, infrastructure and connectivity and in support of a rules-based framework", as Australian foreign affairs minister Marise Payne said.

By Rajiv Raman

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