BRICS Summit 2017: Modi, Xi put Doklam stand-off behind, keen to move on

Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrive for the Dialogue of Emerging Market and Developing Countries in Xiamen, China.
India and China on Tuesday indicated the Doklam military stand-off was an issue in the past, and the two neighbours were keen to move on.

Xinhua, the state run Chinese news agency, quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping to have told Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their bilateral meeting that “China and India should see each other as development opportunities, not threats.” Xi said to Modi that “peaceful coexistence, win-win cooperation was the "only correct choice" for China and India.”

The much anticipated Modi-Xi bilateral meeting, their first after the 73-day Doklam stand-off, lasted a bit over an hour. The meeting took place on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit in China’s Xiamen city.

According to Xinhua, on the issue of their border dispute the Chinese President said: “China, India should jointly safeguard peace, tranquillity in border areas.” Xi also called for an alignment of strategies to expand economic cooperation. 

"On the economic and social development, the two countries have great potential for cooperation which should see greater synergy in strategy alignment, expand cooperation in infrastructure connectivity as well as international affairs," the Chinese President said. India has kept out of China's OBOR/Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious land and sea connectivity project.

Modi later tweeted that his talks with Xi were “fruitful”. On whether Doklam was discussed between the two leaders, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar said: "It was a forward-looking conversation...and not a backward-looking one."

Modi and Xi stressed the need for the two neighbours increase and strengthen mutual trust. Jaishankar said the two leaders felt that "the security and defence personnel must maintain strong contacts and cooperation and ensure that the situation which happened recently does not recur."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi listens to a speech during the Dialogue of Emerging Markets and Developing Countries, in Xiamen in southeastern China’s Fujian province on Tuesday | Photo: PTI
Jaishankar said it was natural between two neighbours or big powers to have differences but they should be handled with mutual respect and efforts should be made to find common ground in addressing them.

Jaishankar said there was a reaffirmation of the Astana spirit that the two sides will not allow differences to become disputes.

The Chinese and the Indian troops were engaged in a standoff since June 16 after the Indian side stopped the construction of a road by the Chinese Army. On August 28, India's External Affairs Ministry announced that New Delhi and Beijing have decided on "expeditious disengagement" of their border troops in the disputed Dokalam area.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that during their meeting, "President Xi stressed that China and India are each others' opportunities, not threats." "We hope India can view China's development in a correct and rational way," Geng quoted Xi as saying.

Asked whether the recent standoff at Dokalam figured in the talks, Geng said, "Xi pointed out that China and India should respect each other, seek common ground and shelve differences to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border area." "As far as I know, Prime Minister Modi agreed that the two sides should work together to ensure peace and tranquillity in the border areas," Geng said.

Xi told Modi that if the bilateral relationship can grow in a sound and steady way, it would serve the interests of the two countries and also serve the joint aspirations of the region, according to Geng.

"Xi stressed that China and India are each other's important neighbours and two important markets and emerging countries," Geng said.

During the meeting, the Chinese President said that "in recent years the two sides reached wide of consensus on developing bilateral relations including strengthening the partnership. The two sides have been moving forward and making headway upholding this principle."

"China would like to work with India to uphold the five principles of peaceful coexistence (Panchsheel), advance political mutual trust, mutually beneficial cooperation and move forward the development of bilateral relations along the right track," Geng quoted Xi as saying.

"Together we can move the international order in a more equitable and reasonable way," Xi told Modi, according to Geng.

"China would like to work with BRICS countries to implement the outcomes of the BRICS Summit to usher in a new chapter for the BRICS cooperation," Geng quoted Xi as telling Modi.

The BRICS Summit concluded on Tuesday afternoon with Prime Minister Modi leaving for Myanmar for a two-day state visit, his first to that country.

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