While China prepared for a warm welcome for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a Chinese columnist of a state-run newspaper accused Modi of ‘playing little trick’ ahead of his visit to China.  The writer accused Modi of doing so over border disputes and security issues in a hope to boost up his domestic reputation and his power in negotiations with China.

Contributing for the Chinese Communist party-run Global Times, Hu Zhiyong who is a research fellow with the Institute of International Relations at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences mentioned in his opinion piece that the diplomatic moves by Modi have proven that the Indian Prime Minister is pragmatist rather than a visionary.

Hu explained that in an effort to toughen the mutual political trust, PM Modi should avoid visiting the disputed border areas. “Modi should no longer visit the disputed border region in pursuit of his own political interests, nor should he deliver any remarks that infringe on the consensus on bilateral ties,” he said in reference to Modi’ visit to Arunachal Pradesh which China claims as ‘South Tibet’.

The columnist also wrote that the Indian government should stop extending support to Dalai Lama completely and stop making the Tibetan issue a stumbling block to the China-India relationship.

Published under the title ‘Can Modi’s visit upgrade China-India ties?’, Hu wrote the top lead of the opinion page of the paper. 

The Chinese state media normally echoes the approach of the government on issues and it is definitely strange to put out a critical opinion section on the eve of a high-level visit.

“Ever since Modi assumed office, he has taken the initiative to actively develop India’s relationships with Japan, the US, and European countries in no time, in order to promote the country’s poor infrastructure construction and economic development. But his diplomatic moves last year have proven that he is a pragmatist, rather than a visionary,” wrote Hu Zhiyong. 

He further in his opinion piece added, “Modi has been busy strengthening India’s ties with neighbouring countries to compete with China, while trying to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities for economic development created by China, as Beijing is actively carrying forward the “One Belt and One Road” initiative. Modi has also been playing little tricks over border disputes and security issues, hoping to boost his domestic prestige while increasing his leverage in negotiations with China.” 

“The ball is in India’s court to deepen the bilateral relations,” he said.

Talking about Indo-China bilateral ties, Hu expressed, “Due to historical feud and mutual mistrust that stems from geopolitics, the two sides have never established real strategic trust. Leaders from both China and India should not only strengthen mutual political trust, but also stick to a series of agreed principles and match their rhetoric with action. In light of this, Modi should no longer visit the disputed border region in pursuit of his own political interests, nor should he deliver any remarks that infringe on the consensus on bilateral ties. Meanwhile, the Indian government should completely stop supporting the Dalai Lama, and stop making the Tibetan issue a stumbling block to the Sino-Indian relationship.”

“When it comes to the economic ties, despite the fact that China has already become India’s largest trading partner, India’s trade deficit with China keeps rising sharply. New Delhi is reluctant to admit the widening trade gap is its own fault, nor is it willing to examine its own economic structure and the quality of its exports to China. Instead, it has been repeatedly accusing or directing its anger at China,” he wrote.

The piece further opined that the Indian government should ‘loosen up’ on the limits of cross-border trade with China, reduce the trade deficit, improve the efficiency of government administrations, and relax the visa restrictions, in order to attract more Chinese companies to invest in India. 

In addition, people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries are ‘far from enough’, it said. “People from both China and India lack the most basic mutual understanding and interactions,” he wrote.