The recent developments in Kashmir related to New Delhi’s decision of doing away with J&K special status was not touched during the Modi-Xi summit attended by leaders from two of the most populous nations. Instead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Xi Jinping looked to effect a major reset in relations. Briefing journalists shortly after the summit, Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping had covered numerous topics in the six hours of direct discussions but there was no direct mention of Kashmir. “The issue was not raised and not discussed. Our position is anyways very clear that this is an internal matter of India,” he said.
When Vijay Gokhale was asked about China’s reference to Pakistan ahead of the summit, he said President Xi Jinping briefed Modi about Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s October 8 visit to Beijing. He went on to add that there was an agreement on the challenges of terrorism and radicalization for large countries with diverse populations. Speaking after the summit Prime Minister Modi said the leaders are focused onmanagingtheir differences and remain committed to each other’s concerns.
In a detailed statement that was issued on Saturdayby the Chinese foreign minister, there was no mention of Kashmir. In their conversation, President Xi Jinping gave PM Modi anaccurateversion of the Pakistan’s PM visit relaying Imran’s complaint of India’s refusal to talk to him. Before the summit, the Indian side was clear that Prime Minister Modi was not going to raise the Kashmir issue. However, he would be ready to explain the decision in detail if asked by President Xi Jinping.
After the reorganization of Ladakh as a Union territory, China had reacted sharply alleging implications for border management. The Indian government has made it clear that its decision to abrogate Article 370 and reorganize J&K is an internal decision and a sovereign act. Furthermore, India has asserted it would not be raising any additional territorial claims and that China would not be impacted
Many observers see Chinese President Xi Jinping’s decision to brief PM Modi about Imran’s visit as part of a confidence building exercise with India. Khan’s visit to Beijing sparked off a series of apparently contradictory statement by the Chinese Foreign Ministry with China seen as favoring a bilateral resolution at first. However, 24 hours later, they reversed their decision to include the United Nations resolutions. It is not yet clear whether they are part of an evolution in the Chinese position or a tussle between different fractions of the Chinese system.
The Indian government seem to havebelieved that the Chinese official system is much more hidebound than Xi. This was among the biggest takeaways during the Doklam crisis that was puton a path to resolution after the Chinese President intervention. That was among the main reasons why Prime Minister Modi proposed the informal summit with Xi Jinping.