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India Ascendant?
A Bittersweet Meeting Between Xi and Modi

Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a three-day visit to India, where he meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his home state of Gujarat yesterday and visited New Delhi today. The high-level talks have already netted a number of lucrative infrastructure deals, with more expected to follow, especially regarding rail system development. Indeed, China may go so far as to promise an eye-popping $100 billion to Indian development during the visit, though as of yet it has only officially offered $20 billion, still short of the Modi’s recent Japanese deal ($35 billion).

However, a recent border dispute has cast a pall over the happy event; Chinese and Indian troops are currently engaged in a standoff on the disputed border. The FT reports:

Hours before the two governments signed [the various agreements], India’s foreign ministry said Mr Modi had raised the issue of incursions in recent days by Chinese troops across the disputed border known as the Line of Actual Control.

It was not immediately clear if this latest incident in the Himalayas – apparently one of the most serious for years – was the result of a show of strength by Beijing to coincide with Mr Xi’s visit or arose from more aggressive patrolling by the Indian army on the orders of the nationalist Mr Modi.

Indian media quoted officials as saying hundreds of Chinese soldiers had crossed the line and were faced with Indian forces at Chumar, Ladakh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Both leaders have called for an amicable relations regarding the border, however. Modi also said that the border must finally be delineated, saying it was essential to the two countries’ ongoing friendship.

Meanwhile, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee visited Vietnam earlier this week, and extended a $100 million credit for Vietnam to use to purchase Indian weaponry. He also strengthened the two countries’ energy ties. They stressed their mutual commitment to “freedom of navigation” in the surrounding maritime regions, a statement of opposition to Xi’s ambitions to build a “Maritime Silk Road” in the Indian ocean through which Chinese trade can run.

As India’s outreach to Vietnam and the spat on the border show, Modi is not letting down his guard when it comes to China’s ambitions. Nor, for its part, is Beijing backing down. But for the time being, India is certainly making out well from Xi and Abe’s competition for its affections.

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    What is clear is that China has territorial ambitions on all its borders, and India is just defending itself. Modi shouldn’t expect much from the Chinese because they are not honest about their intentions and will renege on any deal they make as soon as it is convenient.

  • Anthony

    “India and China are the only modern great powers that have held a largely continuous culture for several millennia” and border dispute has always been, in modern times, recurrent issue. “With some diplomatic- craftmanship, Delhi can convert its somewhat ethereal values-based soft power advantage into hard strategic and economic gains. Modi’s government seems to have recognized this and is building…to enhance India’s public diplomacy toolkit.” See India’s Soft Power Advantage:

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