China’s president in India for summit amid Kashmir tensions

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MAMALLAPURAM, India (AP) – Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in India Friday for a summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a time of tensions over Beijing joining Pakistan in opposing India’s downgrading of Kashmir’s autonomy and the ongoing lockdown in the disputed region.

Xi landed at the Chennai airport, where Tamil Nadu state Gov. Patwarilal Purohit greeted him with a bouquet as a cultural group beat drums and blew horns.

India’s foreign ministry said Xi and Modi will meet at the seaside temple town of Mamallapuram for talks on regional and global developments later Friday and Saturday.

Their one-to-one meeting in Wuhan in China in April last year also was preceded by tensions caused by a 10-week standoff between their armed forces on the Bhutan border.

China claims some 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) of territory in India’s northeast, while India says China occupies 38,000 square kilometers (15,000 square miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin Plateau in the western Himalayas. Officials have met at least 20 times to discuss the competing border claims without making significant progress.

The two countries fought a bloody border war in 1962. 

India also is concerned about China’s moves to build strategic and economic ties with its neighbors Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and the Maldives.

Tensions in Kashmir, which is divided between Pakistan and India but claimed by both in its entirety, have escalated since August, when India downgraded the autonomy of Indian-administered Kashmir and imposed a security and communications lockdown.

China supported Pakistan in raising India’s actions at the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York. China said India should not act unilaterally on Kashmir, a portion of which China also controls.

Xi arrived two days after hosting Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing.

India says Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. “China is well aware of our position. It is not for other countries to comment on the internal affairs of India,” India’s External Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, said he expected an overview of bilateral relations between the two leaders and “giving instructions on how the relationship should proceed.”

He said the diplomatic damage the Chinese inflicted over India’s action in Kashmir has been done. “This is not going to be undone. India has stuck to its position and received international support,” he said.

China for its part resents India’s hosting the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

China says Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, although many Tibetans say they were essentially independent for most of that time. Communist troops took control of the region in 1950 after a brief military struggle.

Referring to India’s support for China’s position on Tibet, Mansingh said that India backs China’s territorial integrity. “China will not keep on challenging our territorial integrity. Otherwise we will have to have to take a different view on the issue,” he said.

Police personnel stand in the shade of banana trees at the entrance at the entrance to Mamallapuram, where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping will hold their first meeting and dinner in southern India, Friday, Oct. 11, 2019. Xi is coming to India to meet with Modi on Friday, just weeks after Beijing supported India’s rival Pakistan in raising the issue of New Delhi’s recent actions in disputed Kashmir at the U.N. General Assembly meeting. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
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