China’s Xi and India’s Modi to hold summit this week amid strains

Visitors stand beside the granite boulder 'Krishna's Butterball' at Mahabalipuram. (AFP/File)
Updated 07 October 2019

China’s Xi and India’s Modi to hold summit this week amid strains

  • Indian media reports said Xi and Modi will visit Mamallapuram’s attractions
  • Beijing singled out India’s decision to create a separate administrative territory in Ladakh

NEW DELHI: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping will hold an informal summit in southern India on Friday, officials said, amid strains in their relationship.
The meeting follows months of niggling between the world’s two most populous nations over trade, border disputes, and their respective diplomatic moves.
India’s foreign ministry has not formally announced the meeting in the Tamil Nadu town of Mamallapuram, known for its historic temples and architecture.
But it has opened media registration for a “second India-China informal summit,” and Chinese officials have been scouting out the seaside town for several weeks.
Indian media reports said Xi and Modi will visit Mamallapuram’s attractions on the follow up to their first informal summit in Wuhan, China, in April last year.
That meeting followed an intense high-altitude stand-off at a disputed border post in the Himalayas.
Xi is expected to leave Saturday, as Nepalese media have said he will visit Katmandu this weekend on his way back from the India talks.
The historic rivalry between India and China has been strained in recent months after Beijing criticized New Delhi’s decision to revoke autonomy in Kashmir, the Himalayan region also claimed by Pakistan.
Beijing singled out India’s decision to create a separate administrative territory in Ladakh, a Buddhist-dominated part of Kashmir, as part of the change.
China also claims parts of the Ladakh region, perched on a steep Himalayan border with China’s restive Xinjiang to its north and Tibet to the east.
“India has continued to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty by unilaterally changing its domestic law,” China’s foreign ministry said in August.
India too claims part of Ladakh region under Chinese control.
India has also objected to Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative, a global infrastructure program that includes a major project through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a territory claimed by New Delhi.
The two went to war in 1962 over Arunachal Pradesh state in northeast India, where China claims about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of the territory, next to Tibet.
Trade is another sore point in the relationship.
India recently raised the issue of its rising trade deficit of about $55 billion, according to some reports, and pressed China for better market access for Indian companies.
Xi, in turn, can be expected to press Modi to open Indian markets to Huawei’s 5G telecom systems amidst global debate on security concerns.
The United States is blocking Huawei and encouraging its allies to do the same because of the company’s links to the Beijing government.


Curfew call in Indian capital after 20 die in sectarian clashes

Updated 26 February 2020

Curfew call in Indian capital after 20 die in sectarian clashes

  • Clashes began on Monday between people supporting and opposing the citizenship law
  • Unrest is the worst sectarian violence seen in Delhi in decades

NEW DELHI: Riot police patrolled the streets of India’s capital on Wednesday and the city’s leader called for a curfew following battles between Hindus and Muslims that claimed at least 20 lives.
The two days of unrest — which has seen clashes between mobs armed with swords and guns — is the worst sectarian violence seen in Delhi in decades.
The clashes come amid worsening religious tensions following a citizenship law that critics say is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda.
Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, called Wednesday for the army to be deployed and for a curfew to be imposed over flashpoint northeastern districts.
“Police, despite all its efforts, (are) unable to control the situation and instill confidence,” Kejriwal tweeted on Wednesday morning.
“Army (should) be called in and curfew imposed.”
The clashes began on Monday between people supporting and opposing the citizenship law, then descended into pitched battles between the mobs.
Twenty people died and nearly 200 others were wounded in the first two days of violence, the director of the hospital where people were taken, told AFP on Wednesday.
Sixty people had suffered gunshot wounds, according to the director, Sunil Kumar.
The area is home to mostly poorer economic migrants living in many shanty neighborhoods, and some fled on Wednesday ahead of more expected clashes.
“People are killing (each other). Bullets are being fired here,” a tailor in the Jaffrabad area told AFP, adding that he was returning home to his village in northern Uttar Pradesh state.
“There is no work... It is better to leave than to stick around here. Why would we want to die here?“
On Wednesday morning AFP saw people cleaning out the blackened and trashed interior of a mosque in the Ashok Nagar area burned out during the violence.
A video circulated on social media and verified by AFP showed men ripping off the muezzin’s loudspeaker on top of the mosque’s minaret and placing a Hindu religious flag and an Indian flag.
The new citizenship law has raised worries abroad that Modi wants to remold secular India into a Hindu nation while marginalizing the country’s 200 million Muslims, a claim he denies.
The law expedites the citizenship applications for persecuted minorities from India’s three Muslim-majority neighboring countries, but not if they are Muslim.
The flare-up in violence occurred as US President Donald Trump visited India and held talks with Modi in Delhi on Tuesday.
But Trump left as scheduled on Tuesday and his visit was not visibly interrupted by the violence.