Jaishankar arrives in Beijing amid China’s concern over UT status for Ladakh
India's foreign minister S Jaishankar arrived in Beijing on Sunday ahead of a key meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in the backdrop of China's concerns over the scrapping of Article 370 by Parliament. Beijing had said it was "unacceptable" that New Delhi had changed Ladakh's status to a union territory (UT) last week.
Jaishankar's two-day visit to China was finalised before New Delhi revoked the special status to J&K and bifurcated the state into two UTs. Beijing is expected to raise its concerns about the situation; especially, because its "all weather ally" Pakistan, already dispatched its foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi last week to discuss the issue with Wang.
During their meeting on Monday, Jaishankar and Wang are expected to finalise details about President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to India in October for his second "informal summit" with Prime Minister, Narendra Modi; the first one in Wuhan in central China in April 2018 thawed the chill in bilateral ties after the Doklam military standoff the year before.
It is Jaishankar's first visit as foreign minister to China where he served as India's ambassador between 2009 and 2013, the longest by an Indian diplomat.
It's yet to be announced who among the top Chinese leadership the Indian foreign minister will call on.
Four MoUs will be signed during Jaishankar's meeting with Wang.
The two foreign ministers will also co-chair the second meeting of the High-Level Mechanism on cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
The first meeting was held in New Delhi last year.
Both Jaishankar and Wang are scheduled to make remarks on the state of bilateral ties at the end of a media forum on Monday evening.
The two ministers are likely to touch upon a wide range of issues - both bilateral and international - during their meeting.
Some parts of the discussion will likely focus on expanding bilateral trade ties amid the worsening trade war between China and US.
In that context, the upcoming trials in India for launching the 5G technology could come up in the talks.
A Reuters report from New Delhi said last week that Beijing has warned India that there could be repercussions for Indian companies operating in China if New Delhi stopped Chinese telecom giant Huawei from taking part in the trials.
Huawei has been accused of spying for the government by the US, a charge strongly denied by the Chinese company.
India's concerns over bilateral trade deficit - it stood at $57 billion last year -- was expected to figure in talks even as officials here expect trade would cross USD 100 billion this year for the first time.
The question of how much the recent development in J&K and Ladakh will be part of the discussions, however, remains.
China had responded with two statements after India's move last week - both critical.
In one, Beijing objected to the formation of Ladakh as UT, saying it undermined its territorial sovereignty.
In the second statement on Kashmir, it expressed "serious concern" about the current situation in the region and said "relevant sides need to exercise restraint and act prudently".
"I guess, he (Jaishankar) might clarify India's modification (of J&K) issue and do some damage control. This unilateral activity from India is really bad for improving bilateral ties," Lan Jianxue, deputy director, department for Asia-Pacific Studies, China Institute of International Studies, said.
(Video by Indian Express)