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HindustanTimes Wed,23 Apr 2014

Chinese media downplays Modi's remark on Arunachal

Sutirtho Patranobis, Hindustan Times  Beijing, February 26, 2014
First Published: 17:54 IST(26/2/2014) | Last Updated: 18:12 IST(26/2/2014)

After the Chinese government, the state-controlled media have now sought to play down Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi's remarks that Arunachal Pradesh is India's integral part and Beijing should shed its expansionist mindset.

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The Global Times, a People's Daily-affiliated newspaper known for its nationalistic views often critical of India, said on Wednesday that Modi's remarks would not affect the increasingly interdependent Sino-India bilateral ties, and that there was no need to exaggerate the impact of the Gujarat chief minister's views.

Incidentally, it was under the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance's (NDA's) regime in the early 2000s when China and India gave a fresh push to their bilateral relations.

The two countries had increased the number of flights operating, and expanded bilateral engagements – other than that on the border dispute – and cooperation in trade and business.

In fact, Modi himself was given a warm welcome by the authorities when he visited China in 2011. He was the third BJP chief minister to visit China that year.

While addressing a rally at Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh last Saturday, BJP's prime minister nominee Modi had said: "Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India and will always remain so. No power can snatch it from us. People of Arunachal Pradesh didn't come under pressure or fear of China."

He had added, "China should shed its expansionist policy and forge bilateral ties with India for peace, progress and prosperity of both the nations."
 
Foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying had earlier sought to play down the implications of Modi's statement, indicating that both New Delhi and Beijing were handling the issue of the disputed border in a mature manner.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own, calling it South Tibet. In the past, Beijing authorities have denied visas to many Indians including army officers and officials from Arunachal Pradesh travelling to China.

Calling Modi's recent words "harsh" and making them a point to say that the remarks were made in the "South Tibet region which is claimed by India as its territory", an editorial in The Global Times said it was expected that Indian leaders would attempt to "win more attention by showing their brawn in dealing with China, especially over the border dispute".

But the editorial titled 'Modi's China-bashing won't shake Sino-India ties' also said there was no need for China to read too much into it.

"Given the neighborhood relationship and economic interdependence over the years, India and China have more common demands for cooperation rather than confrontation. Future bilateral relations won't be affected a lot due to changes in leadership. There is no need to exaggerate the significance of Modi's remarks."

It added that even during the run-up to the 2009 general elections in India, other Indian leaders had tried to show their "brawn" in dealing with China and the disputed border between the two countries.

"Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh kept emphasizing that 'India can do even better than China.' Other political figures, such as then Home Minister, P. Chidambaram, also targeted China on different occasions," the editorial said.

It also said that border issues were a historical knot in China-India bilateral relations.

"A three-week stand-off in April 2013 aggravated border tensions but was solved through hotline contacts and consultations, demonstrating that a border war is the least desirable choice for both sides, despite India's often bellicose stance. The two nations have the capability to maintain peace."

A rational choice, the editorial added, for both China and India was that they should create a favourable atmosphere for border dispute negotiations, thus avoiding aggravation of problems that damage full-fledged bilateral relations and ensuring that potentially volatile situations can be defused quickly.

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