Ahead of the G20 meeting scheduled to be held in early September, China plans to send its Foreign Minister Wang Yi to India.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has confirmed that Wang will arrive in India on August 12 for a three-day tour. Beijing has also hinted that the main purpose of Wang’s visit is to soften New Delhi’s stand on the South China Sea issue. A senior Chinese official told reporters on Monday that the visiting minister would urge Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to join other countries in raising the controversial issue during the upcoming G20 meeting.

China, which blocked India’s NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) membership bid in June, is very much worried about India and the US’ decision to raise the issue at the G20 Summit. Soon after an international tribunal rejected China’s claims over the ownership of much of the South China Sea, India said that the UN convention should be effectively implemented. As the Asian giant wants India not to join any country in seeking a discussion on the issue, it has organised a meeting of ASEAN countries in order to keep the issue outside the joint communiqué.

However, it will not be easy for China to achieve a similar success at the G20 meet. With
Prime Minister Modi planning to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, Beijing has decided to send Wang to New Delhi to discuss the sensitive issue ahead of Modi-Xi meeting. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying informed the media that the minister would also hold a separate meeting with Indian Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj to prepare the ground for a successful Modi-Xi meeting.

There have been a surge of problems in the Sino-Indian relationship in recent times. After opposing India’s case for NSG membership, China sent troops to Ladakh border area, prompting India to deploy more troops and tanks in the region. Although the Chinese Foreign Ministry unilaterally claimed that developments in the NSG meeting would not affect the bilateral relationship, Indian political analysts believe that New Delhi’s failure to win the NSG membership will shape the Sino-Indian relation. They are of the opinion that Beijing’s main aim is not to allow India to become a bigger player in the global order. Prime Minister Modi, who is well aware of China’s intension, is trying his best to strengthen ties with all the neighbouring countries and also with Iran, Afghanistan and Japan, to counter Chinese aggression in the region.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]