India strikes river, rice deals with China as relations thaw

Saul Bowman
June 10, 2018

Stating that the spirit of Wuhan "underpinned" the Qingdao meeting, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale called Xi's acceptance of Modi's invite for another informal summit in 2019 in India as a significant takeaway from the meeting on Saturday.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that China will buy 6.4 million tonnes of rice in 2018, while India will export a total of 11.9 million tonnes.

Xi conveyed to the Indian side that China's defence minister and minister of public security, who is equivalent to India's home minister, will visit New Delhi this year.

These were some of the outcomes of a meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Qingdao on Saturday ahead of a China and Russian Federation led Eurasian grouping-the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation-on Sunday. The two leaders also stock of the progress in implementing the decisions they had taken at their informal summit in Wuhan in April.

Though new and old contentious issues remain, there has been a turnaround in bilateral ties since the military standoff was resolved last August.

In his remarks, Xi recalled the meeting with Modi in Wuhan, how well it had been received, and said a positive atmosphere was taking shape to support China-India relations.

Modi is also said that have acknowledged the Wuhan summit as a "milestone in relationship", one which would help develop mutual understanding and trust and take the relationship forward. Putin arrived on June 8 for a state visit to China and will attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Leaders Summit in the eastern port city of Qingdao on June 9-10.

They agreed on the importance of maintaining peace and tranquillity along the border and continuing strategic communications on the issue.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi will head a new mechanism to oversee people-to-people contacts, and will soon meet to discuss details.

"Member states of the SCO are key to the success of the Belt and Road initiative and China's growing influence as a Eurasian power", said Murphy.

Trade, investment and development cooperation issues will also feature prominently at the SCO, Murphy said, given the climate of "rising anti-globalisation and strains on global multilateral economic institutions", stoked by Trump's nationalist "America First" policy.

To that end, one of the agreements signed on Saturday amended the 2006 protocol on phytosanitary requirements for exporting rice from India to include the export of non-basmati varieties of rice. China has now pledged to share data with India during the flood season, and to also provide data if the water levels exceed mutually agreed levels during the non-flood season.

At the meeting, the Chinese side also agreed to import high-quality agricultural products from India and said they will also allow Indian pharmaceutical products in Chinese market.

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