~ By Inchin Closer staff
Three days after Chinese president Xi Jinping will meet Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, he will fly to the temple town of Mamallapuram, near Chennai to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.
The two are scheduled to celebrate 70 years of diplomatic ties between the nations next year marking a momentous growth story of economic opening up, development, political discourse and growth for both nations.
However, the meeting comes under a dark cloud – the cusp of border tensions in the north of India, southwest China, a slowing economy in both countries and rising social unrests.
Earlier in August, China and Pakistan held their largest yet air force exercise in China’s Gansu province, the Shaheen-VIII. Official Chinese military media reported the exercise and specially highlighted that the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) had for the first time sent its fourth generation J-16 fighter to help train the Pakistan Air Force take on the Rafale fighter aircraft being acquired by India.
In response, the Indian Army has recently started her own training at 14,000 ft in Arunachal Pradesh just 100 km from the forward areas along the Line of Actual Control. The expercise, will trial a new technique of offensive, testing the capabilities of the newly conceived Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs).
The IBGs are a revised technique of combat wherein the army will not function in separate wings but will bring together all fighting capabilities like infantry, artillery, air defence under one command at the Corp level formations of the Army.
The exercises which are being carried out in phases are scheduled to complete by October 25th. Sensing a threat so close to the border, China had kept President Xi’s visit in suspense until the last minute.
On the economic front both China and India are struggling – China under the brunt of her trade war with the US and India under rising inflation, mounting bad debts and an economy in recession on the eve of its festive season.
Chinese companies are in distress, due to the trade war – having laid off employees and waking up to the realization that China is still very dependant on the US for high-tech. She needs an ally in India’s 1.3 billion consumers, but more worrisome is that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s goal of achieving the ‘China Dream’ by 2021 and ‘Made in China-2025’ within the time-limits declared at the XIXth Party Congress now appear difficult.
On the other hand, India’s Prime Minister has just come off a thumping publicity campaign in the United States, where he stood on the same stage as US President Trump and their wowed their allegiance to each other.
Lastly, on the social front, tensions against China are also rising in the south from Hong Kong even while China’s South China disputes haven’t abated. India is also upset over draconian rules being recently passed without a public consensus, rising inflation and unemployment.
On the whole, the informal talks the two leaders will share on the sandy shores of India’s East coast, will lay the foundation for hopefully better and stronger ties between the two neighbours. While Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has not yet visited India as is protocol before a summit, the formula is expected to follow that of the Wuhan Summit held between our leaders last year. Prime Minister Modi and President Xi will lay the ground work, carve out the larger picture for the nations; ministers of both nations will subsequently visit each others countries to work out the modalities and implement plans made during these informal discussions.