The sweeping victory of the Narendra Modi-led BJP has been seen in neighbouring China as possibly providing a platform for a big change in India-China relations. Lan Jianxue, a strategic expert at the Foreign Ministry-affiliated China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) and formerly a diplomat at the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, told The Hindu in an exclusive interview that Mr. Modi could open the door to more Chinese investments as well as leave “an achievement in history.”
How is a Narendra Modi-led BJP victory being seen in China, and how do you think a Modi-led government will impact India-China relations?
Mr. Modi is believed to be a business-friendly politician. And he had been engaging with Chinese entrepreneurs since he became Chief Minister of Gujarat. If he wins with a stable ruling coalition, we expect he can do something substantive to remove obstacles and barriers and discrimination imposed against Chinese investments in India. I expect the bilateral relationship will not suffer too many “curves.”
We had Mr. Modi in one speech in Arunachal Pradesh describing China as “expansionist.” What has been your view on how China figured in the election campaign?
To my observation, this general election was fought on India’s domestic agenda and China was not a significant topic. This indicates the China-India relationship has become more mature and shock-resistant. Relations are national interest-centric, not party-oriented.
Indian parties don’t have much policy differences towards China. Historically speaking, China has been even more skilful in dealing with “right-leaning” political entities.
As far as India-China relations are concerned what should be the focus of the new government?
First, reconnect immediately and reach as much consensus as possible on the future road-map. Second, respect the existing effective mechanisms between two sides regarding political, economic, strategic, cultural issues and the boundary question. In other words, maintain the consistency and good momentum.
Third, explore the new dividend Mr. Modi and his administration would bring towards China-India relationship. I have confidence that he has the mandate and power to do something big and good. He can mark some achievement in history, like his predecessor Mr. Vajpayee did in the 1990s.
Do you think the balance in India’s foreign policy in terms of its relations with the U.S. and China will change?
The Congress has done a good job in this regard. I believe India under Mr. Modi might become more India-centric and dare to say ‘no’ to the U.S. when it comes to India’s strategic autonomy. We in China have never expected that India will put China over the U.S. in its foreign policy. The U.S. has a huge stake in China and vice versa.