NEW DELHI – When leaders of the world's two most populous nations meet in Wuhan City on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India will press for less of China's President Xi Jinping.
Less problems like the embarrassing territorial showdown that put the two countries on alert last year. Less worrying about how India is currently facing increasing Chinese influence in China, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives.
Analysts say Mr. Modi is fixated on winning the next year's elections in India. And it is a measure of the tense relationship between China and India, where he is seen as needing the help of Mr. Xi.
Officials from both countries describe the meeting of leaders that came at the request of India a chance to "reset" relations. But it is clear that Mr. Modi will ask for the assurance of Mr. Xi.
"Everything for Modi is 201
In the past, Mr. Modi has boasted of having a 56-inch chest measurement, apparently a symbol of strength. But this showpiece was damaged last year after Chinese troops invaded a controversial area along the China-China border, where Indian troops were stationed and started building a road. When India objected, China threatened to "teach India a lesson."
China's military power makes India a dwarf, and very quickly, Mr. Modi, who is seen here in India as a strong man, did not find it easy to contain a challenge.
A flood of diplomatic efforts between the two countries cooled things off. But analysts say Mr Modi desperately wants to avoid another confrontation with his powerful neighbor, especially now. Although his political party is still India's most impressive, a few recent misdemeanors, including a delayed reaction to two high-profile rape, have triggered an avalanche of criticism.
Political analysts and even Indian officials even describe the complex relationship between India and China as "frenemies."
"There is a term in Hollywood that has become quite popular, and that, I think, is called Fremnemis," said India's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Syed Akbaruddin, during a recent Washington speech. "We have that with China, we are dealing with them, we are competing with them, in some areas we are working with them and in some areas we agree not to agree and go on."
This could be for any number of countries, but for India and China, their relationships seem to be particularly slippery.
They fought A short but fierce war in the 1960s, supporting uprisings in the backyards of others, bouncing off very different ideologies and saving trade deficits.
Chinese and Indian troops also made real sparring struggles during a chaotic brawl last year on video in the Himalayas along their long-disputed border.
At the same time, India and China often bend back to see how they understand each other in holding international conferences on climate change and maintaining them at high levels. Encounters with the joyous goal of doing nothing more than to deepen their friendship
Mr. Modi and Mr. Xi will meet in Wuhan for two days. Both sides have described this as a purely friendly gathering without much approval and no fixed agenda, other than improving the relationship.
But analysts still expect Modi to tackle tough issues like India's growing trade deficit. urge China to facilitate Indian exports to China. That would work well here in India, where Mr Modi has promised to receive a wave of employment growth.
Mr. Modi's hope, the analysts say, is that the interaction this week will be a good time for leaders, just as he did with Mr. Xi during a summit meeting in India in 2014, when Mr. Modi brought Xi to his home state . Gujarat, where they sat together on a swing.
However, analysts say Mr. Modi needs Mr. Xi more than Mr. Xi needs Mr. Modi.
"India is no longer in a position to compete with China," said Jonathan Holslag, a professor at the Free University of Brussels. "It has not been able to strengthen its national power through industrialization, as China has done, but it is still too proud to replace its strategy of non-alignment with a genuine alliance with the United States, as a result of which it is becoming weaker and weaker."
India and the United States have become closer in recent years, probably closer than ever. The two nations share countless business relationships and a commitment to democracy and have agreed to cooperate in nuclear activities. And President Trump has spoken of a "free and open Indo-Pacific" that China sees as a thinly veiled attempt to recruit India's aid to containment.
"The Chinese know that India is a critical rocking state, probably the largest critical swing status in the world," said Brahma Chellaney, a professor of strategic studies at the Center for Policy Research in New Delhi. "If India unites with the US and other democratic powers, it would have a strong impact on China."
But that does not necessarily happen, said Chellaney, because the United States itself has not stood up vigorously against China, making India wary of being too closely identified with joining the anti-China camp.
"Will the US really help us if China starts a strategic attack?" He said. "That's a question many Asian countries are asking now."
India's governing style – highly decentralized, with nearly two dozen officially recognized languages and a noisy democracy – is a thorn in the side of China's iron central government. In the battle for influence in South Asia, Mr. Modi seeks to exploit this by emphasizing India's tradition of tolerance and diversity.
But it does not always work, partly because of the money. China has so much more and there are huge sums to Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Maldives – all South Asian countries that are traditionally dependent on India are now feeling China's reins.
Concerning Pakistan, India's most direct rival, China is particularly generous and has recently committed to finance infrastructure projects worth more than $ 50 billion.
In 1980, the economies of India and China were about the same size. But in the decades after that, while China has rapidly industrialized, India has fought more. China's economy is now about five times bigger than India's.
Indian analysts say this could be a source of cooperation if India represents the right attitude. China could export its surplus goods and capacities, and India could get the infrastructure and cheap products its population needs.
"But their economic relationships are hampered by their political relationships," said Joshi, the observer of the Research Foundation. 19659002] On the other hand, many people in India tend to regard China and especially its military muscles with awe.
Subramanian Swamy, a Member of Parliament and Mr. Modi's political party, said that Indians "have one thought: that we should not fight with the Chinese."
Suhasini Raj contributed reports from New Delhi.