Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, October 2019
Modi, Xi talks end without a joint statement
Two days talks between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping ended Saturday without a joint statement. The talks were held in the southern Indian town of Mamallapuram.
Indian media reported that both countries will issue statements on Modi-Xi talks separately.
An official statement from Beijing said Saturday that the two leaders agreed to "promote exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations."
"Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed to promote exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations to achieve joint development and prosperity," said a statement released by Xinhua, China's official news agency.
The AFP said the two leaders met for the second time in 18 months in a bid to ease tensions over border disputes, the troubled Kashmir region and China's domination of trade between their economies.
India has moved closer to the United States and its allies in seeking a counter-weight to China's growing military shadow in the Asia-Pacific region, the AFP added.
The Modi-Xi meeting is aimed at mending ties strained by India's decision to split Jammu & Kashmir state into two. China, which claims part of the area's Ladakh region, is also a close ally of India's rival, Pakistan, according to German News Agency Deutsche Welle.
“Pakistan and India both rule part of the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir but claim it in full. The restive region is a flashpoint between the nuclear-armed archrivals. China, too, has some territorial claims in the area. India has de facto control over about 45% of the region and the majority of its population, while Pakistan controls around 35%. But the remaining 20% is under the control of China,” Deutsche Welle said adding:
China claims about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, referred to informally by some Chinese as "Southern Tibet." India, on the other hand, claims sovereignty over 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of the Aksai Chin plateau. Beijing is also opposed to New Delhi's Kashmir move, especially its decision to carve the Ladakh region out of Jammu and Kashmir state and administer it federally.
Modi and Xi "reiterated their understanding that efforts will continue to be made to ensure peace and tranquility in the border areas," according to the Indian statement.
According to Xinhua, Xi said the two countries should seek a boundary solution that is "fair, reasonable and acceptable to both sides".
Indian foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale told reporters that both countries had agreed to pursue, through special representatives, an ongoing dialogue on their disputed border. China and India have held more than 20 rounds of talks to resolve their boundary dispute, over which they went to war in 1962. Different mechanisms have been set up to maintain peace along the 4,000-kilometre (2,485-mile) so-called Line of Actual Control.
Gokhale claimed that Modi and Xi – who met for a total of seven hours over Friday and Saturday, with the bulk of their time spent in one-on-one talks – did not discuss Kashmir, a region that is currently divided between India and Pakistan but which both nuclear-armed rivals claim in full.
Visit to Nepal
From India Xi flew to Nepal for a one-day stopover on his way home, a country that India has traditionally considered within its sphere of influence. China is working for a greater share of Nepal's infrastructure projects.
Two years ago Nepal joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is opposed by India as well as the US and the Western countries.
More than 120 countries have signed on to the BRI, including Pakistan, where a series of projects worth US$46 billion are being constructed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). India has snubbed the BRI and questioned the transparency of funding agreements.
In Khatmandu, Xi Jinping held talks with President Bhandari, and Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli. A 14 point joint statement after the talks said:
China and Nepal take the Belt and Road Initiative as an opportunity to deepen mutually-beneficial cooperation in all fields in a comprehensive manner, jointly pursue common prosperity and dedicate themselves to maintaining peace, stability and development in the region.
The Chinese side reiterated its firm support to Nepal in upholding the country's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its firm support and respect to Nepal's social system and development path independently chosen in the light of Nepal's national conditions.
The two sides agreed to intensify implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative to enhance connectivity, encompassing such vital components as ports, roads, railways, aviation and communications within the overarching framework of trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network with a view to significantly contributing to Nepal's development agenda that includes graduating from LDC at an early date, becoming middle income country by 2030 and realizing the SDGs by the same date.
The two sides, while recalling the MoU signed between the two countries on 21 June 2018 on Cooperation in Railway Project, agreed to conduct the feasibility study as outlined in the MoU signed on 13 October 2019, which will lay an important foundation to launching the construction of the Cross-Border Railway. Both sides also reiterated their commitment to extend cooperation on Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini Railway Project.
The two sides welcomed the reopening and the restoration of the freight functions of the Zhangmu/Khasa port, and will optimize the functions of the Jilong/Keyrung port and open the Lizi/Nechung port at the earliest possible time and build necessary infrastructure on the Nepali side of the border.
The Chinese side noted the request made by the Nepali side for the construction of Kimathanka-Leguwaghat section of the Koshi Highway and agreed to consider this project in future cooperation plan and requested the Nepali side to submit a detailed proposal.
Both sides expressed satisfaction with the signing of the Agreement between the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Government of Nepal on Boundary Management System, which will improve the level of boundary management and cooperation for both sides.
Talks with Prime Minister of Pakistan
Ahead of Xi's visit to India, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan visited China, on October 8-9, 2019, and held talks with Xi and other government officials in order to win Beijing's support over his country's Kashmir stance.
A Chinese government spokesperson said Wednesday (Oct 9) the Indian move to annex the disputed territory was "unacceptable," adding that China would help Pakistan defend "its legitimate rights and interests" in the Kashmir region.
A joint statement issued after the visit the two sides reaffirmed their firm resolve to further strengthening Pakistan-China All-Weather Strategic Cooperative Partnership aimed at building a Community of Shared Future in the New Era.
Stressing that the close ties, deep-rooted friendship and strategic partnership between Pakistan and China served the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples, and contributed to peace, stability and development in the region, the two sides reaffirmed their support on issues concerning each other's core interests, the joint statement said adding:
“Chinese leaders reiterated solidarity with Pakistan in safeguarding its territorial sovereignty, independence and security. The Pakistan side reaffirmed its commitment to the One China Policy. Supporting One Country Two Systems, Pakistan reiterated that affairs of Hong Kong were China's internal matter and all countries should uphold international law and basic norms of non-interference in internal affairs of other countries.”
On the situation in the Indian-administered Kashmir, the statement said that China was paying close attention to the current situation in Jammu & Kashmir and reiterated that the Kashmir issue is a dispute left from history, and should be properly and peacefully resolved based on the UN Charter, relevant UN Security Council resolutions and bilateral agreements. “China opposes any unilateral actions that complicate the situation.”
Normal life continues to be hit in Kashmir for 70th day
Tellingly, normal life remained hit in Kashmir for the 70th consecutive day on Sunday (Oct 13) since the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution as the main markets continued to be shut and public transport stayed off the roads, even as the weekly flea market here was open, the Press Trust of India quoted officials as saying.
Mobile services remained suspended in Kashmir while Internet services across all platforms also continued to be snapped in the valley.
Most of the top-level and second-rung politicians have been taken into preventive custody, while mainstream leaders, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have either been detained or placed under house arrest.
Another former chief minister and the Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar, Farooq Abdullah, has been arrested under the controversial Public Safety act, a law enacted by his father and National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1978, when he was the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir.
According to Al Jazeera, hundreds of people arrested in the Kashmir lockdown have been held without trial by the Indian authorities and moved to jails far from home. At least 300 have been arrested under the Public Safety Act (PSA), which allows for detentions of up to two years without trial.
Most have been sent to jails across the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
The transportations are often conducted without warning, and families say they are allowed little contact with detainees once they find them. Proving innocence is difficult even for those with resources given the communications situation in Kashmir and the number of cases.
Sanjay Dhar, the registrar general of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, said two judges in Kashmir's main city of Srinagar were handling around 300 appeals against PSA detentions filed since August 5.
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