New Delhi’s decision to deploy dozens of battle tanks near its border with China might lead to misunderstandings between the two countries and also impact the flow of Chinese investment into India, a Chinese state-run media report said on Thursday.
The opinion piece in nationalistic tabloid Global Times said it was “puzzling” that India was stationing 100 Russian second-generation T-72 tanks at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) at a time when it is also wooing Chinese investment.
The newspaper was reacting to reports in a leading Indian daily earlier this week that said the Indian army was deploying the tanks in Ladakh for the first time since the 1962 war between India and China. The Indian report said the move was not aimed at China but rather to ensure the tanks stayed in fighting condition in the sub-zero temperatures typical of the high-altitude region of Jammu and Kashmir.
Ties between the two countries, prickly at the best of times, worsened after China stonewalled India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group last month. Beijing has also been alarmed by New Delhi’s growing closeness with the United States as well as its expanding role in the South China Sea that the Chinese authorities consider as part of their sovereign territory.
But despite their political differences, China remains one of India’s largest trading partners.
Thursday’s Global Times report suggested China was doing India a favour by investing in a country where people were illiterate and the business environment bad.
“In an index on the ease of doing business, from the World Bank, India currently ranks 130 out of 189. Despite India’s stated goal to rise to within the top 100 this year, the nation has its work cut out for them,” it said.
“Additionally, the illiteracy rate in India remains high and continues to hinder the country’s efforts to improve its productivity, adding to evidence that India cannot make itself a promised land for Chinese manufacturers overnight.
“On top of all this, India is deploying tanks!” said the opinion piece written by Hu Weijia.
Chinese outbound investment has gone up by about 58.7% in the first half of the year.
“This new wave of Chinese investment only just begins to meet India’s rising import demands. The People’s Daily said Wednesday that the Modi administration has recently promoted a second round of reforms to attract more overseas investment by allowing foreign firms to increase their shareholding in local enterprises.
“However, it is puzzling that while deploying tanks near China’s border, India still strives to woo Chinese investment.”