Days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Japan, Chinese state media warned on Wednesday that New Delhi will commit a serious mistake if it attempts to tango with Tokyo on the South China Sea (SCS) issue to oppose Beijing.
Such a move would also create more bilateral “mistrust” between the two Himalayan neighbours, the state-controlled Global Times added.
The Chinese newspaper said India intends to convince Japan and mention the SCS arbitration verdict delivered at The Hague, which went against China in July, in the India-Japan joint statement expected at the end of Modi’s visit this week.
It is seen as retaliation against China’s decision to block India’s bid to become a member of the influential Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).
The India-Japan joint statement, according to Global Times, would demand China abide by the arbitration rule, which said Beijing had no historical rights in the SCS and ruled in favour of the Philippines.
But India should not do that, writer Liu Zhun argued in the Global Times article titled “India overestimates its South China Sea leverage” on Wednesday.
“India knows that it is not yet qualified for membership in the NSG, according to the organisation’s rules. China’s decision was simply a fulfillment of its international duties. It is preposterous for Indian media and government to scapegoat China as a troublemaker, and seek revenge by making more troubles,” Liu wrote.
India is not part of the ongoing disputes between China and other countries in the region and has no “traditional influence”.
“As a non-claimant to the South China Sea and an outsider that has no traditional influence on the region, India has been paying keen attention to any activity, because the country has adopted a “Look East” foreign policy since Modi took office,” it said.
But, India, Liu wrote “…seems to have overestimated its leverage in the region. Although China’s major rivals in the dispute, such as the US and Japan, have been trying to draw India into their camp, the country will be likely regarded as having a token role.”
India did not learn its lessons when recently Singapore snubbed its request to include the arbitration in a similar joint statement, Liu wrote.
“India’s proposal to make new waves in the SCS first came to Singapore last month, but Singapore, a master of the rebalancing strategy, snubbed it. The rejection shows India lacks legitimacy and leadership in making new waves in the SCS.”
“As a regional major power in Asia, India does not feel at ease with China, a larger and more powerful neighbor. It admires China’s imposing changeover, especially its economic takeoff, but it has never relaxed its wariness of China’s rise. The complicated feelings could drive India to make mistakes in its China policy.”
Instead of trying to interfere in the SCS disputes, India should focus on resolving bilateral problems, the article argued.
“India and China should put more efforts into resolving problems like the imbalance of their trade ties. India won’t benefit much by balancing China through Japan. It will only lead to more mistrust between New Delhi and Beijing.”