India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj arrived on Saturday in Beijing on a four-day China visit where she will hold crucial bilateral talks with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi and attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation ministerial-level meeting.
The one-on-one meet with Wang on Sunday will be the key highlight of Sushma Swaraj’s visit in which she will discuss a range of issues and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s China trip in June to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Summit.
She will meet a more powerful Wang who in March was promoted to China’s top diplomatic post of State Councillor. Their last meeting was in December on the sidelines of the BRICS Foreign Ministers meet.
Sushma Swaraj will attend the SCO foreign ministerial-level meeting on April 24 and leave for Mongolia.
After the 73-day military stand-off at Doklam in 2017, China and India have tried to mend their ties, which is evident from the stepped up bilateral exchanges and high-level visits.
Besides the long-standing border dispute, the two countries have a host of issues that plague their relationship. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) irks India as its planned route cuts through the disputed Kashmir held by Islamabad and claimed by New Delhi.
Beijing’s opposition to New Delhi’s application at the UN to have Pakistan-based terror group chief Masood Azhar declared an international terrorist is another pesky issue between both countries.
India’s willingness to join the emerging bloc of the US, Japan and Australia to counter an increasingly assertive China in the Indo-Pacific region worries Beijing. However, both sides seem to have decided to work with each other despite differences.
While bilateral high-level visits and dialogue have increased, both sides have propitiated each other. China in March agreed to share the Brahmaputra River data with India, which it had withheld after the military crisis erupted in 2017.
India shifted a planned Dalai Lama event out New Delhi, not to tick off Beijing, which calls the Tibetan spiritual leader a “separatist”.
Last week, India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval met China’s senior-most diplomat Yang Jiechi in Shanghai.