On April 28-29, 2018, the Indian and Chinese Presidents met in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province. Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi discussed a number of topics including the (de)militarization of their borders and regional cooperation.
While New Delhi has consistently refused to formally join China’s new Silk Roads initiative, especially because of issues related to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor and Indian claims in Kashmir, India could still participate in some projects related to the BRI, particularly in Afghanistan.
After the two-day summit in Wuhan, in their press release, both Chinese and Indian governments reported stronger cooperation in Afghanistan. Restoration of peace and reconstruction in this country are challenges that both China and India need to address. India has become an important partner for Afghanistan and recently decided to finance the purchase of military equipment by Kabul to fight against terrorism. Afghanistan is also a centerpiece of the North-South Corridor, a project developed in the 90’s to enhance trade between Russia and India via Iran and Central Asia.
China is also interested in Afghanistan and fears the development of terrorism within its own borders. In December 2017, foreign ministers from China, Pakistan and Afghanistan decided to strengthen their cooperation to fight against terrorism. Furthermore, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor could be extended to Afghanistan.
China and India could thus participate in the construction of infrastructure, including roads and railways in Afghanistan, as reported by some Afghan media after the meeting.
The informal meeting between Presidents Xi Jinping and Modi also revived the Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar Economic Corridor, which is expected to connect Kunming, capital of Sichuan to Kolkata (Calcutta), capital of West Bengal.
Thus, India and China are gradually strengthening their cooperation and overcoming their frictions to achieve common goals on stability and development in Asia.
Although not formally joining the BRI, India is seeking a greater role in this project.