Chinese President Xi Jinping reached Chennai to a red carpet reception on Friday afternoon to take part in an "an unscripted and unparalleled" informal summit" with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the seaside resort of Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu in a bid to reset bilateral ties by taking a fresh set of confidence-building measures.
Modi, who reached Chennai a few hours earlier, till fly to Mamallapuram where he will receive Xi later Friday evening. "Welcome to India, President Xi Jingping," Modi tweeted soon after the Chinese President reached Chennai. This will be the second informal summit between Modi and Xi after the first was held in Wuhan, China, in April 2018, months after a 73-day-long faceoff between the armies of the two countries in Doklam plateau.
The timing of this meeting is significant as it comes against the backdrop of some strain in Sino-India ties over the Kashmir issue following India's decision to revoke the special status enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. In the past two months, China has on multiple occasions sided with its all-weather ally Pakistan which tried to internationalize the Kashmir issues by raising it various multi-lateral forums, including the United Nations General Assembly.
Indian officials say they expect China to respect its core concerns, including over the issue of Kashmir. New Delhi said this week that changes to Kashmir’s status were an internal affair and there was no room for a third country to be involved, after Xi said he was watching the situation closely and assured Pakistan of Chinese support.
Modi and Xi will be aiming to move forward on a set of confidence-building measures during the informal summit in Mamallapuram, near Chennai, an Indian source briefed on the discussions said. India and China share a 3,500 km (2,200 mile) border, over which they went to war in 1962.
The border has been largely peaceful but there have been occasional stand-offs between the troops of the two countries. The measures on the table include more border trade, tourism and even joint military patrols to boost trust, said the source. Since the Wuhan summit, there has been some forward movement in relations between India and China including resumption of a number of military, border and economic dialogues and China giving India a little more market access to goods from India.