Beijing: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi began his tour of three Indian Ocean nations, an influential Chinese state-run think tank today said that Beijing should address New Delhi’s concerns about the “China threat” in its neighbourhood and called for further strategic dialogue between India and China to?enhance “mutual trust”.
“As the two biggest powers around the Indian Ocean, China and India should act in a positive way and conduct related regional cooperation. It will benefit this region and the rest of Asia as well,” an article by Liu Siwe, an assistant research fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, Sichuan University said.
“If possible, China and India should conduct more strategic dialogues concerning regional security and economic development and ensure mutual trust,” the article published today in the state-run Global Times, which is part of the ruling Communist Party of China’s (CPC) group of papers said.
“Modi should be prudent to avoid raising issues which could result in an ‘India or China’ dilemma.
Similarly, China should address doubts about the motivations of China’s foreign policy in the region, and particularly India’s worries about the ‘China threat’,” it said.
The article refers to Modi’s visit to Seychelles followed by trips to Mauritius and Sri Lanka where China has built up significant strategic influence in India’s backyard in recent years.
“Evidently, the Indian leader wants to confirm that Delhi is putting greater emphasis on the Indian Ocean. Predictably, Modi will boost cooperation with India’s maritime neighbours. Apart from offering economic assistance and enhancing economic cooperation, he will probably place great importance on defence and security cooperation,” it said outlining the significance of the prime minister’s visit.
Referring to media reports, it said India is pushing a “Mausam” project to compete with China’s “21st century Maritime?Silk Road (MSR).
“The ‘Mausam’ project is trying to allow India to reestablish its ties with its ancient trade partners and reestablish an Indian Ocean ‘world’ along the littoral of the Indian Ocean,” it said.
“It is true that the ‘China factor’ cannot be neglected when people clarify the intentions of India’s diplomatic actions, but it is not reasonable to overemphasise it. Sino-Indian relations are not engaged in a zero-sum game, even though the two sides’ interests in the region are not asymmetric,” the article said calling for talks between the two countries on strategic issues.
The article also comes as China is grappling to retain some of its controversial projects, especially the Colombo Port City project in Sri Lanka after the new government temporarily suspended it to probe allegations of corruption and license issues by the previous pro-China regime.