Amid sea of problems, Modi-Jinping bonhomie

Prime Minister Modi invoked the Wuhan spirit and the importance of the bilateral issues.

President Xi Jinping spent twenty four hours in Chennai, Mamallapuram and Kovalma. The latter two were inspired choices. Both places were spruced up, sanitised, lawns manicured, pathways constructed. The hospitality offered to our Chinese friends could not have been bettered.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sartorial transformation at Mamallapuram was not accidental. Its significance was all too obvious. Tamil Nadu got the message. Neither did his acting as a guide to President Xi in the town on the banks of the Bay of Bengal go unnoticed. The choice of the venue was inspired. The 1400-year- old monuments were given a long overdue wash. The two leaders looked relaxed, at ease with each other. During this walking the talk excursion in serene and beautiful surrounding they must have touched on serious issues too.

The statements made by the two leaders at the delegation meeting said little but conveyed much. Prime Minister Modi invoked the Wuhan spirit and the importance of the bilateral issues. President Xi reciprocated and also emphasised that the Chennai talks would have far reaching impact on the relations and the friendship the two countries enjoy. Wuhan had contributed to this. He also said India and China were economic super-powers. A new era had began at Chennai. He also said that their talks were candid. Not a discordant note was struck. This reflects the well established diplomatic practice for such occasions. Differences are resolved through diplomacy. Differences must be managed.

The one to one talks were according to President Xi Jinping were held in a candid manner. Emphasis was laid on dealing with terrorism, on the trade side a new mechanism is to be established at the level of Finance Ministers. Kashmir was not discussed. President Xi did tell Prime Minister Modi about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Beijing. The matter ended there. Emphasis was laid on increasing tourism. Both countries will work jointly to deal with radicalism, climate change and environmental problems.

President Xi told the Prime Minister Modi that China followed an independent foreign policy.

China will never agree to India becoming a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Neither of the Nuclear suppliers group. It is strengthening its relations with our neighbours. Its GDP is many times more then ours. China spends $250 million on defence. India only $66 million.

What is the outcome of President Xi Jinping’s visit. It ended on a constructive, friendly note. We should keep a vigilant eye on Sino-US differences. USA is the only power that China cannot take on for decades to come. The U.S.A is well informed on what goes inside China. The U.S.A also keeps close track of China’s infiltration into many countries in the world. President Trump regularly reminds China of its harsh treatment of the Muslims in Xinchiang, which is thousands of kilometres from Beijing. The Uighars do not speak Chinese. Are anti Communism. The Islamic World tactfully, sympathises with their fellow Muslims in Xinchiang. China’s economy is no longer growing at 10%, but at 5%. The inequality between coastal China and its hinterland is a serious worry for Beijing.

What should be our China policy. As Prime Minister Modi said at the delegation level meeting, “differences should not become disputes.” He has personally gained much for the success of President Xi Jinping visit.

The present disarray in the Congress party reminds me of the celebrated lines of the Irish poet, W.B. Yeats (1865-1939), “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold… The best lack conviction….”. Seventy two years old (she will be 73 on 9th December) is expected to reform, revive, rejuvenate, reconstruct, remodel a moribund and disunited party. This is too much to ask of her.

From Delhi to Haryana, Maharashtra to Goa, Karnataka to Bengal, Meghalaya to Assam, Rajasthan to Uttrapardesh the dry rot is all too evident. Only in Punjab the Congress functions with confidence. Salman Khushid said his leader, Rahul Gandhi had walked away. Jyotiraditya Scindia appeals for introspection. The once shining star is in jail. The BJP is having a ball. Why? India is changing. The Gandhis appear like extinguished volcanoes.

-K Natwar Singh, Former Minister of External Affairs of India