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Samarkand SCO | Significance of the Modi-Xi non-meeting

If India chose not to request a meeting, or turned down a request for one with Xi Jinping, then this is a fairly explicit declaration of the direction of India’s relationship with China given that there is an extremely high likelihood Xi will return to power for a third term as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China in October

September 19, 2022 / 12:27 PM IST
Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Image source: AP/File)

Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (Image source: AP/File)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not meet one-on-one with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Uzbekistan on the sidelines of the 22nd meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s (SCO) Council of Heads of State. At least there is no publicly shared evidence of the meeting so far. One cannot be absolutely sure, of course, for such is the nature of diplomacy.

In a media briefing on the eve of the summit, Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra was notably cagey about what other bilateral meetings the Prime Minister would have apart from the one with the President of the host country, Uzbekistan.

If Modi and Xi did not meet, was it the case that either side did not request for a meeting, or that one or the other side did not accept the request? What are the larger implications of this development?

From India’s perspective, the non-meeting could be seen as a necessary corrective after the informal summits between Modi and Xi in 2018, and 2019. The only real outcomes of those summits after all, were Chinese success in misleading the Indians with post-Doklam bonhomie, and showing up the lack of Indian military preparedness to tackle the large-scale Chinese transgressions across the LAC in the summer of 2020.