The Sino-Indian cooperation is of enormous strategic value for New Delhi and such a relationship cannot be “duplicated” by its bilateral ties with any other country, an influential official Chinese daily said on Wednesday, coinciding with the visit of President Xi Jinping to India.
State-run Global Times, part of the ruling Communist Party of China’s People’s Daily publication group, said in an editorial that the Sino-Indian cooperation is “invaluable”.
“The geopolitical significance of the benign development of Beijing-New Delhi ties can’t be duplicated,” said the daily known for its nationalistic views.
“The better China-India relations develop, the more advantages and initiatives India can have when dealing with the US and Japan.”
China has been regarded as their biggest rival by the US and Japan, who instinctively try to rope in China’s neighbours to their cause, the editorial said.
“A positive New Delhi-Beijing engagement would force Washington and Tokyo to cosy up to India,” it said.
On the global strategic chessboard, Japan and India wield nearly the same influence. In contrast to Japan’s hostile policy towards China, India follows a cooperative principle.
“Therefore, Japan has to seek the favour of India, not the other way around,” it said.
Xi is the first leader of a major power to visit India after the Narendra Modi-led government took charge, it said. His first stop is in Prime Minister Modi’s home state of Gujarat on Modi’s 64th birthday.
“This is viewed as a starting point for the two leaders to develop a personal friendship,” the editorial said.
Referring to Modi’s recent visit to Japan, the daily said the “floods of rhetoric such as ‘joining hands to counter China’ emanated from Japanese public opinion to which Modi gave a rational response at the time.”
“Now it seems that this mentality from many Japanese is very wide of the mark.”
China has a long-term strategy for a friendly cooperation with India, rather than seeking short-term gains, it said adding that “for us, the Sino-Indian relationship, with its own strategic merits, doesn’t have to be associated with ties with other major powers.”
“Both China and India are continent-sized countries but have embarked on different paths and developed different advantages.
“We need to discover more of the common interests between the two countries which will have a stunning purchasing power upon humanity’s future,” it said.
Also an article in the same daily written by a scholar from the Centre for International and Strategic Studies, Peking University, said for a long time the subcontinent has been a weak link in China’s peripheral diplomacy.
Xi’s visit will help build a new strategic framework in China’s relations with South Asian countries.
With the gradual implementation of a Silk Road economic belt and a 21st century Maritime Silk Road, known as the ‘One Belt and One Road’, China will further expand its footprint in South Asia and the Indian Ocean, from where 75 per cent of China’s imported oil passes through.
Although the ‘One Belt and One Road’ initiative is welcomed and supported by most countries, some are still suspicious of Beijing’s long-term policy intentions referring to reservations in India.
“Some India strategists claim that the ports Beijing helps build in South Asia will become its overseas military bases and that China is engaged in assembling a ‘string of pearls’ to encircle India. As China is becoming a maritime power and conducting activities more frequently in the Indian Ocean, India inevitably feels worried,” it said.
“South Asia and the Indian Ocean are turning into a focal point of the US and Japan to hedge against China,” it quoted a new US document involving Washington’s military strategies referring to ‘Indo-Pacific’ replacing ‘Pacific-Atlantic’ as a new regional framework for US military to design deployment and allocate resources.
Since Modi was elected Prime Minister in May, the US and Japan have made efforts to cosy up to the new government. Japan also pledged to help India develop its manufacturing industry, upgrade infrastructure, and intensify joint training between Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force and Indian Navy.
Tokyo promised to invest USD 35 billion in India in the next five years, it said.
“It seems that China and Japan are mired in a scramble for South Asia. Japanese Prime Shinzo Abe made a recent visit to both Bangladesh, the first Japanese Prime Minister to travel there in 14 years, and Sri Lanka, where it had been 24 years,” it said.
“The increasingly intimate ties that Washington and Tokyo have been developing with South Asian countries sound an alarm for Beijing. But China’s participation in this competition will objectively contribute to the stability and prosperity in this region,” it said.
The trade volume between China and India is almost four times that of Japan and India. And India’s economic ties with the US has been suffering from the grave divergences between them over trading and investment rules, it said.
“Xi is expected to declare China’s new policy on South Asia and expound on the ‘One Belt and One Road’ initiative in New Delhi to set up a framework for future cooperation with South Asian countries.
“Guided by the broad strategic view of the Chinese leadership, Beijing is sparing no effort to rediscover South Asia,” it said.
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