Samarkand: The Shanghai cooperation organization or SCO summit in Uzbekistan’s cultural capital Samarkand will be the first time both Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will be under the same roof since the Galwan incident, but suspense remains if they will meet. While as of now, there is no confirmation over any meeting between Indian and the Chinese leadership at the Samarkand SCO summit, any meeting will be significant given how ties have been faring, but a breakthrough looks less likely.
The Galwan incident of 2020 saw Chinese aggressive action at the Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh that led to the death of 20 Indian soldiers.
China, after much delay, accepted that it lost 4 of its soldiers, a claim that remains doubtful given Beijing’s track record on transparency. While disengagement has taken place in areas like hot springs, and Gogra, China continues to violate the 1993 and 1996 pacts as it amasses troops at the border areas.
From Delhi, the message has been clear as External affairs minister Dr S Jaishankar has several times said that ties have been going through a “difficult phase”. Last month, EAM said, “much of the future of Asia depends on how relations between India and China develop in the foreseeable future.
For ties to return to a positive trajectory and remain sustainable, they must be based on the three mutuals: mutual sensitivity, mutual respect, and mutual interest”, adding, “their current status is, of course, well known to all of you. I can only reiterate that the state of the border will determine the state of the relationship”.
Since the Galwan incident, India has banned several Chinese apps in the country, increased scrutiny on Chinese investment and increased infrastructure development at the border. But a week before the Samarkand SCO summit, India and China announced disengagement at Gogra-Hotsprings PP15 at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh.
In a brief joint statement, the 2 sides confirmed the process started and was an outcome of the 16th round of the India China Corps Commander Level Meeting that took place in July.
Remember, something similar happened in 2017, when ahead of the China BRICS summit, disengagement on Doklam was agreed upon. Before the covid pandemic, both leaders met several times. In 2019, both leaders met 4 times.
Both met on the sidelines of the SCO Leaders’ Summit in Bishkek, which was their first meeting after the re-election of Prime Minister Modi, on the sidelines of the 14th G-20 Summit in Osaka and at the 11th BRICS Summit in Brasilia on 13 November 2019.
Additionally, they also met for the famous Second Informal Summit in Tamil Nadu’s Mamallapuram with China’s Xi visiting India. Earlier, Prime Minister Modi visited China in September 2016 to participate in the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, in September 2017 to participate in the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, and in June 2018 to attend the SCO Summit in Qingdao.
President Xi visited India in October 2016 to participate in the BRICS Summit in Goa and his famous visit to PM Modi’s home state of Gujarat in 2014.
The Russian President has confirmed that he will be meeting China’s Xi in Uzbekistan. What is interesting to be noted is that this is the first foreign visit of the Chinese President since the COVID pandemic’s outbreak. His last visit abroad was to Myanmar in January of 2020 and the world since then has changed dramatically.