Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi “will have an ‘informal and heart-to-heart’ two-day summit with the ever-powerful Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mao Zedong’s favorite holiday spot on Friday,” reports India Today’s Ananth Krishnan from Wuhan, Hubei Province.
- “Xi leaving Beijing to meet a foreign leader is being seen as an unprecedented gesture,” according to Krishnan.
- The two leaders will probably tour Mao’s holiday villa, which is now a museum, and there will probably be photo sprays of the two strolling together next to the city’s East Lake or on the shores of the Yangtze River — China chose Wuhan “to give an informal, relaxed touch to the summit.”
- Not too much relaxing, though: Modi and Xi are scheduled to have at least “five rounds of extensive talks over Friday and Saturday.”
- Why now? The BBC gives three reasons:
- India believes that last year’s Himalayan dispute “marked a dangerous phase in the relationship and that tensions need to be kept in check.”
- India wants China’s cooperation in pressuring “Pakistan-based terrorist groups and securing India’s admission to the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), a body that controls nuclear trade.”
- India is hedging its bets against “an uncertain period in world politics,” as China grows closer to Russia while the North Korean crisis may help Beijing “improve ties” with Washington.
- Another factor noted by the New York Times (paywall): “Analysts say Mr. Modi is fixated on winning next year’s election in India,” and because of “the fraught relationship between China and India right now,” the Indian PM needs Xi’s help.
- Chinese investments in India “added up to more than $8 billion” by the end of 2017, according to an official quoted in another India Today story by Ananth Krishnan, which looks at bilateral trade and investment.
For more on the complicated history of Sino-Indian ties, read Dancing with the dragon? Deciphering India’s ‘China reset,’ by Tanvi Madan. You can follow the Modi visit to Wuhan in real time on Ananth Krishnan’s Twitter feed.