New Delhi, Oct 10 : All eyes are on the two-day Informal Summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping starting Friday Chennai and Mahabalipuram when both leaders are expected to hold serious parleys on Indo Pacific, terrorism and possibly also take up concerns over a massive trade imbalance and the mega RCEP trade deal.
Mr Modi and President Xi will be meeting next in Bangkok on the sidelines of the East Asia and ASEAN summit from October 31 to November 4. The meeting will come within 15 days of the Informal summit. The Bangkok meeting will be the fourth this year between Xi-Modi and the seventh interaction between the two since Wuhan in April 2018.
Besides the trade talks, the two leaders are expected to take a call for the next round of Special Representative-level talks aimed at boundary resolution. The Special Representative talks that involves NSA Ajit Doval was put on hold against the backdrop of China’s tough stance on Kashmir after August 5.
India is keen for higher market access for exporting products. China has been importing rice and sugar from India following a special request from Prime Minister Modi.
China exports mostly finished goods such as electronics, electrical equipment, plastic, organic chemicals and fertilisers while India exports commodities such as tea, coffee, spices, stones and minerals. Indian pharmaceuticals face resistance in Chinese markets on various grounds.
The bilateral trade between the two neighbours touched a historic high of USD 95.54 billion in 2018 but the trade deficit is in China’s favour and it rose to USD 57.86 billion. Mr Modi has held meeting on RCEP trade issue with senior ministers on Monday while Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a separate meeting last week with Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and External Affairs Dr S Jaishankar besides Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on the matter.
The RCEP is a proposed free-trade agreement (FTA) between the 10-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its six FTA partners China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Commerce Minister Goyal will be in Bangkok for the RCEP ministerial meet.
With regard to hosting President Xi in Tamil Nadu, sources said Prime Minister Modi has been generally in favour of taking foreign dignitaries outside the national capital to showcase other parts of India and selection of Tamil Nadu is also being seen from that perspective.
Mahabalipuram is a World Heritage Site listed in 1984 according to officials here, the historic occasion will thus befittingly project the tourism potentials of Mahabalipuram in particular and also of Tamil Nadu. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami has urged the people of Tamil Nadu to accord a grand welcome to President Jinping. ''The talks to be held between Modi and Xi in Mahabalipuram will elevate the stature of Tamil Nadu in world level,'' he said in a statement.
Sources said on his way to Mahabalipuram from Chennai, the visiting dignitary will get glimpses of several events at various points such as Karakattam and drums near Saidapet court. The unique Karakattam team from Madurai will also perform while a team of drum artistes will welcome the Chinese President in Kandanchavadi with Nadaswaram, Oyilattam and Karakattam in Thiruvadanthai.
According to sources, folk artistes would also perform near Chennai Airport on Friday afternoon when Xi Jinping arrives.
More than 50,000 school and college students have been roped-in to welcome Jinping. BJP state general secretary Vanathi Srinivasan said that various party committees are working in effective coordination with the state government authorities to give a grand reception to Prime Minister Modi and the Chinese President.
In recent months, PM Modi and President Xi have already met twice in Japan on the sidelines of the G20 Summit and in Kyrgyzstan on the sidelines of the SCO summit in June immediately after PM Modi's swearing in for a second term.
During their meeting at Bishkek on June 13 in Kyrgyzstan, PM Modi and President Xi have broadly agreed that while the outcome of Wuhan was a "very positive one" it was necessary now to move the relationship forward into new areas.
The Prime Minister had also specifically conveyed to President Xi and he agreed that both sides "need to raise our expectations from the relationship". Both sides would be, therefore, looking forward to discussing all issues from a strategic and long term perspective, an official said.( UNI)