By Gaurav Sharma
Beijing, June 10 (IANS) The bilateral meet between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the SCO summit will be an “important” one where they will discuss the US turning up the heat on both the countries on trade, China’s Vice Foreign Minister said here on Monday.
As the US in May took its trade spat with China to the next level by slapping tariffs on its goods worth $200 billion and ended the preferential status for Indian goods earlier this month, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Hanhui said it had become important to stop Washington from “bullying” countries on trade.
“You mentioned in your question whether the two leaders will talk about the trade frictions between China and the US and the spectre of trade frictions between the US and India. Well, such things are not surprising. I believe this could become an important topic,” Zhang said while replying whether Xi and Modi will discuss Washington’s aggressive trade policy.
Modi and Xi will have a one-on-one the sidelines of the eight-member countries’ SCO meet from July 12 to 14 in Kyrgyzstan’s Bishkek.
“Trade protectionism and unilateralism are very much on the rise. How to respond to the bullying practices of the US and also of trade protectionism is an important question,” he said.
With the US locked in a bruising trade war with China and engaged in a similar tariff spat with the European Union (EU), experts say India could be Washington’s next target.
The US this month decided to end preferential trade status that had allowed Indian goods to enter America duty-free. New Delhi is reportedly planning to retaliate.
“Not only on China, it has a direct bearing on the recovery and the growth of the global economy. So, I would say it would be helpful if the two leaders can exchange views and we hope their communications will lead to extensive consensus on upholding justice and opposing trade protectionism,” Zhang said.
“I hope with their cooperation, the two countries will not only enhance bilateral trade and also play an important role in promoting global economy.”
This is the first time Modi will meet Xi after his re-election for a second term in last month’s general elections.
“Prime Minister Modi and President Xi are good friends. They had a very successful informal summit in Wuhan, China and that summit has provided strategic guidance for the development of China-India relations, paving the way for stable growth of bilateral ties in the long run,” the Vice Minister said.
“As for the bilateral meeting between President Xi and Prime Minister Modi on the sidelines of the SCO, the detailed arrangements are still under discussion but I believe every meeting between the leaders is very important.
“For the Chinese side, we will make good preparation to ensure the success of the bilateral meeting,” Zhang added.