China's official media have now waded into the controversy surrounding Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh's remarks in Beijing, praising him for speaking out against restrictions on Chinese companies but criticising his comments on Chinese dams on the Brahmaputra river.
The State-run English-language China Daily backed Mr. Ramesh in an editorial on Tuesday, saying the reported restrictions on the import of equipment from telecommunications firm Huawei, under the scanner in India for security reasons, “could chill Sino-Indian friendship.”
“In this regard, the remarks by Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh seem prudent,” the newspaper said in a rare lead editorial on India.
The government-controlled newspaper, which is largely aimed at an overseas audience, also called on both countries to “handle on-going trade frictions delicately.”
“Ramesh said over the weekend in Beijing that India should take a ‘much more relaxed' approach to Chinese investments and remove ‘needless' restrictions,” the newspaper wrote.
“To dispel suspicion about Chinese investments, India should treat China more as a trustworthy partner instead of as a potential competitor.”
Speaking of the post-Copenhagen warming of ties between India and China in an interaction with Indian journalists on Saturday, Mr. Ramesh had warned that restrictive trade policies on Chinese companies could derail the improvement in bilateral relations seen this year.
The Chinese-language Global Times, a widely-read newspaper published by the ruling Communist Party, also backed Mr. Ramesh's comments, calling for India to remove “needless” restrictions on Chinese companies.
“India trades with Pakistan, Sri Lanka and other countries, but it seems India cannot act the same way when dealing with China,” the newspaper wrote. As of Tuesday evening, the report was one of the most widely-read on its website, attracting more than 100 comments.
The newspaper's English-language version, known for its nationalistic and often strident editorial stance, took a more negative view of Mr. Ramesh's visit to Beijing, instead focusing on his remarks on Chinese dams on the Brahmaputra.
While reiterating that China's current ‘run of the river' projects “should not be a cause for great concern,” Mr. Ramesh also called for India to be “much more aggressive” in expediting hydel power projects in Arunachal Pradesh, a State viewed as disputed by China. He also warned that India could not accept any plan by China to divert the Brahmaputra's waters, and called for greater co-operation on the sharing of hydrological data.
Referring to Arunachal Pradesh as “southern Tibet Autonomous Region” in the article, the newspaper quoted Ma Jiali, a prominent South Asia scholar, as saying “China's and India's final resolution on territorial sovereignty is the prerequisite for mutual cooperation on trans-boundary waters.”