*Image for representational purpose only
New Delhi (IANS) Chinese President Xi Jinping may visit India for a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi before this year's general elections and as early as February, a media report suggested on Wednesday.
Reporting out of Beijing and New Delhi, the Nikkei Asia Review business journal cited an Indian source as saying that the visit might happen as early as February with the elections due in May though a Chinese source was quoted as saying it will take place after China's National People's Congress in March.
The report comes amid speculation here about when Modi will host Xi for a return informal summit with elections around the corner. The Chinese leader hosted the Prime Minister for a similar summit in the Chinese city of Wuhan in April last year.
According to the report, the impending visit is being seen as a move by Beijing to counter Washington's increasingly antagonistic trade policy and aggressive Indo-Pacific diplomacy.
It stated that Xi is expected to discuss with Modi measures to defuse border tensions as well as propose deals to expand imports of Indian farm products and increase cooperation in advanced technologies.
"The visit, whenever it occurs, offers Modi a golden opportunity to show voters a diplomatic victory ahead of an election in which he likely faces an uphill fight," the report said.
In 2017, Indian and Chinese troops were in a face-to-face situation at the Doklam region in India-Bhutan-China international trijunction after China's People's Liberation Army tried to construct a road there.
After being made President for life, Xi then hosted Modi for the informal summit last year to break the chill in bilateral ties in the wake of the Doklam incident.
In 2018, apart from the Wuhan summit, Modi and Xi met three more times - on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in the Chinese city of Qingdao in June, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, in July and the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December.
Xi's visit will also help Beijing in re-balancing its strategy in the Indo-Pacific after India, the US, Japan and Australia revived a quad in 2017 to work for peace and prosperity in the region.
The revival of the quad was seen as a move by these four important powers to counter China's increasing influence in the Indo-Pacific, a region stretching from the east coast of Japan to the east coast of Africa.