Narendra Modi’s track record in Gujarat as a “practical businessman” suggested that he would look to improve India’s relations with China if elected, a commentary published on Tuesday in a prominent Chinese newspaper has argued.

“Modi was once a practical businessman. After he got into politics, he established good relations with China. A large number of Chinese enterprises invested in Gujarat, contributing to the economic development of the State. Therefore, ties between China and India may become closer under Modi’s leadership,” said the commentary in the Communist Party–run tabloid Global Times, known for its nationalistic outlook.

The article, authored by Liu Zongyi, a scholar at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, blamed “Western media and observers” for trying to “foment discord between China and India by hyping up nationalist Modi’s aggressive statements on the border issue between the two countries.”

“In fact,” it countered, “it has been a policy for India to offset the negative effects of China's rise by enhancing strategic cooperation with countries around China. It is unlikely that Modi will change this policy. However, it doesn’t mean he will strengthen the trend.” Chinese scholars have closely followed the on-going elections. Most strategic experts here are of the view that as far as India-China relations were concerned, the outcome might not have a significant impact considering the past record of both UPA and NDA governments in crafting a similar China policy.

Mr. Liu, however, argued that there was “disquiet” in the West about a possible Modi government in New Delhi.

“In its manifesto the BJP promises a multilateral diplomacy and the establishment of “a web of allies” to further India's best national interests, which steers away from a tilt toward the U.S. held by India in diplomacy in the past decades. This has caused worries from the West,” the article said.

“The West has adapted to an India with a weak central government in the past decades,” Mr. Liu said. “It is afraid that a strongman like Russian President Vladimir Putin will make India really strong and build the country into a challenger to the West economically and politically.”

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