Sino-Indian relations to remain complicated: Global Times

Sino-Indian relations to remain complicated: Global Times

SAM Report,
PM Modi observing the terracotta figurines at Terracotta Warriors Museum in Xian during his 3-day China visit in May 2015.  Photo Courtesy: Agence France-Presse

Highlighting the ongoing tense relationship between China and India, China’s State newspaper Global Times has asserted that the increasingly tense relationship between these two countries is likely to remain complicated for an unforeseeable time.

Qian Feng, executive director of the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies, referring to a conference of 120 Indian ambassadors and senior diplomats held recently in New Delhi states that it was a window for the international community to view the current trend of India’s diplomacy.

The 8th Heads of Mission Conference which lasted for four days had attracted much attention as it provided a platform for communication between decision-makers at home and “commanders” at the diplomatic battlefront.

According to the author, since Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power, India has won the favor of some Western countries, partly by virtue of its unique geographical position, huge market and strong economic momentum. In this context, its international and regional influence has increased significantly. Based on this meeting, we can tell that the Modi administration will not greatly adjust the current diplomatic strategy, which could be generalized as going beyond the regional vision and pursuing great power status; striking a diplomatic balance among big powers but giving top priority to the US; creating peripheral security while putting its focus mainly on China and Pakistan; developing more partners and prioritizing Japan and Australia; and promoting Indian products.

Feng observed, since Modi’s overwhelming victory in 2014, with his highly controversial nationalistic personality and style of action, he has substantially subverted the stereotypical impression among outsiders that Indian politicians are overcautious and lacking in initiative. Diplomacy has always been a reflection and continuation of domestic politics. According to the Indian media, when Modi talked about India’s major diplomatic goals in the future, in addition to calling for better performance in emerging markets and strengthening India’s security in terms of relations with neighboring countries, he had also maintained that India should not only become one of the providers of the international security architecture, but also take a leadership role in it. “Provider” means more advocacy and initiation, while “leadership” has a significant and subtle meaning. Although it is a long-term and difficult task for India, whose influence is currently limited to the South Asian Sub-Continent and the Northern Indian Ocean region, it is still a bold and ambitious vision, the Global Times noted.

The author points out that in terms of realizing the vision, there is no clear road map for India currently, because it’s still hard for the country to extend its influence beyond its immediate  surrounding areas. It is also hard to tell whether India can play a “leadership” role for these related countries. These countries are more likely to want to find a balance between India and other big powers. Under the leadership of Modi, India may seek to establish closer relationships with the US, Japan, Australia and other countries so that it can play a more important role than before. And by joining international organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, India wants to gain more international influence.

However, in the process of becoming a leading force in the international security arena, finding out how to better handle relations with Pakistan, China and other neighboring countries will be a major challenge for India. China and India are both big Asian powers, and they have experienced a simultaneous rise. At present, India’s foreign policy is a continuation of Modi and his team’s political ambition and self-confidence, while also showing India’s longing for great power status, Feng observes.

He stresses that this current ideology of India is both an opportunity and a challenge for China in handling its relations with India, which has experienced a series of setbacks and disturbances recently. He concludes with the hypothesis that for a long period of time in the future, working out how to get along well with an ambitious but sensitive neighbor, as well as finding out how to efficiently cooperate with this friend and reduce mutual contradictions and disputes will be worthy of consideration for China.