NEW DELHI – PM Narendra Modi meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping this week, a visit some experts consider to be a complicated relationship that withstood several trials in the past year, including a tense border dispute
The Leaders of the The two most populous nations in the world are scheduled to take place on April 27 and 28 in central China's Wuhan city.
"Our common interests outweigh our divergences," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said about the meeting's prospects.
And the divergences are numerous, the most complicated is a long-lasting border dispute.
The two countries waged a one-month border war in 1
China claims some 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of territory in northeastern India, citing the region's cultural ties with Tibet as proof that the area is part of what it calls the "South." India says that China occupies 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of its territory in the Aksai Chin Plateau in the western Himalayas Over the last three decades, officials have met at least 20 times to discuss the competing demands of the border.
Low skirmishes, often little more than screaming fighting between soldiers occurs fairly regularly, but the most aggressive confrontation has occurred in decades. Last summer, the Himalayan borders of India, China and Bhutan met.
It began in June when Indian troops entered China to stop it To build a road in the Doklam region in Bhutan for ten weeks The soldiers of the two atomically armed states watched each other. The two countries finally agreed to withdraw their troops on August 28, although neither Beijing nor New Delhi provided an explanation of how the crisis was resolved.
There are other nuisances.
Last year, India refused to be part of Xi's big initiative to build a "new Silk Road" of ports, railways and roads to expand trade in a wide arc of countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. India is unhappy that Chinese state-owned companies are working in the Pakistani part of Kashmir, the Himalayan region claimed by India and Pakistan. Indian leaders see this as confirmation of Pakistani control of the area.
For India, China's ever-growing influence in the neighborhood, with significant strategic presence in Sri Lanka, Nepal and the Maldives and close ties with Pakistan, is a constant irritant. For Beijing, India is host to the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile, a source of friction.
"The goal of the meeting will be to get the relationship between China and India on a better footing The relationship has been strained in recent years by China's increased concentration, investment and activity in South Asia outside of India," said consulting firm Eurasia Group ,
The first signs that Beijing and New Delhi were trying to improve their relationship came in February, when India publicly ordered officials to stay away from the events of the 60th year of the Dalai Lama in India. Since then, diplomats from both sides have met, and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj met her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi the week before the announcement of the Wuhan summit.
Modi travels to China again in June for Shanghai summit of the cooperation organization. In addition to China and India, this group also includes the Central Asian states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan.
The meeting in Wuhan comes at a crucial time for both leaders. Beijing has to deal with tariff trends in the US on Chinese products, which have led to fears of a trade war. Modi needs steady economic growth ahead of national elections next year.
"The world is now facing rampant unilateralism and growing protectionism in the process of globalization," said Lu, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, this week The Background of Talks between Xi and Modi.
Nobody expects the two men to work out all the intricacies in the complicated diplomatic relationship.
"Given the depth and breadth of the problems between India and China, it would be unwise to expect dramatic breakthroughs," wrote C. Raja Mohan, director of Carnegie India, in the Indian Express.
The most likely outcome of the meeting, the Eurasia Group said, is "the resumption of diplomatic exchange to reduce the risk of a flare-up in the short term, but there probably will not be a real bilateral solution to these tensions."
Associated Press researcher Shanshan Wang in Beijing contributed to his report.