The Chinese have expectedly followed President Barack Obama’s India visit closely.
If the foreign ministry on Monday reacted sharply when the South China Sea was mentioned in an Indo-US joint statement, its state-controlled media had a word of caution for India’s foreign policy.
The Global Times newspaper, from the Communist Party of China (CPC) organ, People’s Daily’s, stable advised India not to fall into the trap laid by the US – a trap that would pitch India against China despite the expanding common ground between the two countries.
It said in a commentary that Washington was egging on India against China by talking about threats posed to New Delhi by Beijing. The long-standing Sino-India border dispute is being used as a tool, it said.
India, the commentary said, should see through the game.
“The West is egging India on to be fully prepared for "threats" posed by its large neighbour...However, a trap is a trap. Although craftily set, it will be revealed eventually. Putting aside debates over specific issues, China and India must keep in mind that their relations cannot take a life-or-death struggle as a foothold. The common interests they share are way larger than any differences,” the newspaper – often known to commentaries critical of India and its “messy democracy” – wrote.
There is a pattern in the way western media reports on Sino-India relations.
“Through these reports, there seems to be only a fixed pattern to observe Sino-Indian relations. Recent years have witnessed a tendency in international public opinion that whenever India makes a move, it is perceived to be aimed at China. This time, the stereotyped mindset seems to have prevailed again when the US president and Indian prime minister hugged in New Delhi,” it said.
A second commentary in the official news agency, Xinhua, on Monday said both countries could look out for each other in the international political arena.
“The two neighbors could also watch each other's back in the global political arena, as they share common interests or have similar stance over a bunch of major issues,” the Xinhua commentary said.
“They say the United States intends to turn itself into a vantage point for its dealings with China by wooing India. Just as it is up to Indians to decide if such an opinion sounds flattering or demeaning, it is mostly up to the two Asian neighbors to decide the fate of their bilateral relations,” the commentary added.
The broadly positive outlook for Sino-India relations aside, it has to be remembered that Chinese state media was similarly effusive about bilateral ties before President Xi Jinping’s India visit in 2014 and Premier Li Keqiang’s trip to India 2013. But on both occasions, alleged border intrusions by Chinese soldiers cast dark shadows on the high-profile visits.