Wednesday, Oct 24, 2018 | Last Update : 08:17 AM IST
In a hugely symbolic move ahead of the Brics summit that will start in Goa on Sunday and the bilateral meeting there between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday,
In a hugely symbolic move ahead of the Brics summit that will start in Goa on Sunday and the bilateral meeting there between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday, which triggered feverish speculation about Chinese ire with India over trade issues, China Friday cancelled its session at the Brics Business Forum 2016 at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi. The session was due to start at 10.30 am and was cancelled as China was apparently upset with trade barriers within Brics.
This comes as India is gearing up to strongly take up the issue of terrorism with China over the issue of Beijing’s opposition to a proposal that the UN ban Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar. So while India is miffed with China over the terrorism issue, Beijing has signalled it is upset with New Delhi over trade barriers, and this may be a move to put India on the defensive. The Chinese see India as a huge market for their goods despite the strategic partnership with Pakistan. But India is also expected to continue with its diplomatic offensive against Pakistan over terrorism originating from there when it plays host to Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as the Chinese President and the leaders of Brazil and South Africa at the summit of the five-nation Brics grouping in Goa on Sunday.
China is keen to have a free trade area for Brics. Earlier this month a Chinese spokesperson in Beijing said that by setting up a free trade area, the Brics countries would be able to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers, give play to their comparative advantages, and advance trade and investment liberalisation between them, reports in the Chinese media claimed. However, India is not keen to give duty-free access to Chinese products. Indian industry has been complaining about dumping by Chinese firms. India recently imposed duties on steel coming from China. The Brics Business Forum 2016 was organised in New Delhi at Pragati Maidan from October 12 to 14. The Brics Trade Fair is a platform for the respective Brics countries to exhibit the state-of-the-art technologies and advances in industrial development.
The menace of terror, China’s continued opposition to a proposed UN ban on Pakistan-based JeM’s chief Masood Azhar and Beijing blocking India’s NSG membership bid are expected to dominate the bilateral talks between visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Narendra Modi that are likely to take place in Goa on Saturday ahead of the summit. There are indications that Mr Modi will strongly take up the issue of terror and the need for China to be sensitive to Indian concerns at his bilateral talks with President Xi, with the Masood Azhar issue expected to figure prominently. New Delhi is likely to make it clear to Beijing that opposition to terrorism is a global concern and “not an issue of political gains for India” as Beijing had insinuated recently on the Masood Azhar issue.
India’s objections to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), that will pass through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and the reports of China blocking a tributary of the Brahmaputra in Tibet as part of the construction of its “most expensive” hydro-power project are among the other issues that Mr Modi is likely to take up with the top Chinese leader. The Prime Minister had tweeted on Friday that he looked forward to deliberations with the leaders of China and the other Brics countries, “which will strengthen our bilateral ties with these key partners”.
The bilateral meeting with President Vladimir Putin and the India-Russia annual summit will also take place in Goa on Saturday, with Mr Modi leading the Indian side and President Putin heading the Russian delegation, even as Russia is set to bag multi-billion dollar defence deals. There were reports that the two sides could sign as many as 18 pacts on Saturday, with agreements in the defence and nuclear spheres expected to be the most prominent.
India and Russia are expected to discuss several major defence deals, including joint development of Kamov Ka-226T light utility helicopters, purchase of the cutting-edge S-400 Triumf advanced air defence missile system and upgrade of the Su-30 MKI. About 140 Kamov helicopters will be made in India under the “Make In India” programme in a $1 billion contract while negotiations to acquire five S-400 air defence systems from Russia valued at about $4.47 billion is expected to gather substantial traction.
India may once again voice its displeasure to Moscow on the recent Russia-Pakistan joint military exercises held in Pakistan while Russia has been maintaining that Pakistan has to take action against terrorists operating from its soil.