India-China relations will be under a glare in the coming months. Prime Minister Modi will travel to Hangzhou, China, for the G-20 Summit on September 4 and 5, where he and his host President Xi Jinping will have an opportunity to discuss bilateral ties, in addition to G20 matters. Xi is scheduled to travel to India to participate in the BRICS Summit in Goa on October 15 and 16. The two leaders will also participate in the East Asia Summit in Vientiane, Laos, on September 6 and 7.
Modi and Xi have met on several earlier occasions over the last two years. During Modi’s first international travel to Fortaleza, Brazil, for the BRICS Summit in 2014, he met President Xi for the first time. Their last meeting was in Tashkent on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in June. With the possible exception of President Obama, PM Modi has probably met President Xi more often than any other world leader since taking charge. While relations with the US has soared, relations with China are mired in tension and distrust. Hopes which had surfaced after Modi’s victory that relations with China will improve have been sorely belied. Modi had embraced China with eagerness after coming to power to make it an active partner in India’s economic development. This initiative has fallen flat. China has not accorded appropriate importance to India’s concerns as India had hoped. These relate not only to issues bedeviling bilateral ties, but equally to China’s all out support to its ‘’iron friend’’ Pakistan. China has been unmindful of Pakistan’s funding and support to terrorism which could adversely impact China’s own security in the not too distant a future.
South China Sea dispute and the centrality of UNCLOS
Some major issues that have afflicted bilateral relations in recent months include China’s blockade of India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership bid at Seoul in June, putting a ”technical hold” on designating Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar as terrorist by UN Security Council, and extensive support to Pakistan for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which passes through Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) — a region that juridically belongs to India. China has claimed that it is unfair to single it out because there were several other countries which were opposed to a non-NPT signatory becoming a member of the NSG.