China invites India for Indo-Pacific partnership

Updated - November 16, 2021 04:55 pm IST

Published - December 05, 2014 12:27 pm IST - BEIJING

China is looking towards India for establishing an “Indo-Pacific era,” based on shared interests in developing new routes to Europe, and avoiding the “Asia Pivot” doctrine of the United States.

People’s Daily , the official newspaper of the Chinese government is running a commentary that analyses India’s “Look East” and “Act East” foreign policy that is being steered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The commentary, which first appeared in the Global Times — a daily affiliated with the Communist Party of China — acknowledges that Mr. Modi “wants a peaceful and stable periphery that will allow him to concentrate on domestic economic structural reform and infrastructure building.” It points out that the Prime Minister wants India to become a manufacturing hub, and deliver his promise of building “a powerful India in a decade.”

In pursuit of its ambitious goals, the six-month old government needs to maintain “stable relations with China, Pakistan and other countries, and needs to absorb investment and technologies from countries like China, Japan and Singapore,” the daily observed.

The write-up, acknowledges that the “Indian government and scholars” have not endorsed the “Indo-Pacific geo-strategy” scripted by countries such as the United States and Japan, which aims to “balance and even contain China’s increasing influence in the Asia-Pacific region and the Indian Ocean”. It asserts that the “Indo-Pacific” construct, of which India is seen as the “linchpin” was first used by Australian scholars, following the Obama administration’s strategic rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific. Also called the “Asia Pivot,” Mr. Obama's “rebalance” doctrine aims is to amass forces on China’s periphery with the help of allies — chiefly Japan, South Korea, Australia and the Philippines.

Without biting into a collective US-led approach, India “has enhanced its strategic and military cooperation with countries around China, such as Japan, Vietnam and Australia.”

The commentary, advocates that China and India should overcome both foreign and domestic problems so that an “Indo-Pacific era” can commence. This can happen with the pursuit of an “Indo-Pacific” geo-economic plan that includes the establishment of the Silk Road economic belt, as well as the complementary 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (MSR), aimed at the massive Asia-centered development of Eurasia. The daily observes that Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor (BIMC) and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor are part of this grand inter-continental plan.

A diplomatic source told The Hindu that India has not yet made up its mind on endorsing China’s proposal of the 21st century MSR, but is ready to participate in the development of an economic corridor that would comprise Bangladesh, China, India and Myanmar. The source pointed out, incidents such as the visit of a Chinese submarine to Sri Lanka, and Beijing’s intentions in Maldives need to be ironed out in order to boost confidence for larger projects.

In a veiled reference to the “Asia Pivot,” the daily asserts that China and India can overcome their obstacles, “if New Delhi steers clear of foreign backed attempts to “establish an exclusive political, military and economic alliance from the Pacific Ocean to the Indian Ocean, which would lead to strategic and military competition and even conflict.” Besides, the border row between the two countries — “the largest obstacle for bilateral relations” — can only be resolved through “mutual understanding and mutual accommodation,” the daily opined.

The article cautioned the Modi government to avoid the “misconception” that China should make concessions on border disputes because Beijing is facing pressure from the east. Besides, it should not be assumed that “China would turn to India for help to digest its excess capacity and huge foreign reserves”.

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