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India's China policy to be driven by self-interest

Self-interest without sentiment must be the backdrop to future relations between India and China, says India's ambassador S Jaishankar.

world Updated: Mar 23, 2010 10:10 IST
Reshma Patil

Self-interest without sentiment must be the backdrop to future relations between India and China, says India's ambassador S Jaishankar.

We need a self-interest driven, unsentimental, non-emotional view of relationships as a way forward,'' Jaishankar told the Hindustan Times in his first interview to the Indian media since assuming office in Beijing.

A new assertiveness by India has been evident at every bilateral venue. For example, India has warned its largest trade partner and neighbour to bring down trade barriers that keep Indian IT and hi-tech products out of the vast mainland market.

The Chinese have to appreciate that if they want a long-term and really big relationship it can't be unbalanced, he said. I'm not suggesting they be good to us. I'm suggesting they be sensible about their own interest.Asked how he has addressed Beijing's concerns about India's closer ties with the US, Jaishankar noted the scale of Sino-American relations is even greater. I've not encountered anybody who could look me in the eye and say they have an issue with India's relationship with other countries.

Self-interest is Jaishankar's favourite word and will underpin India's attempts to find a more predictable basis for relations between the two largest Asian nations. If you want to do business, you have to learn to stand up for your rights. But he has been at pains to explain to the Chinese that they can benefit from India's stance. So the Chinese have been
told that India's controversial visa policy changes are to their benefit.

So far, they like it.

Both sides need to move on from last year's sparring over the disputed eastern border. That was last year. What's behind us is behind us,'' said Jaishankar.

From April to October both nations will stage goodwill events to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic ties. Indian businessmen and artists will tour 33 Chinese cities, from the well-known boomtowns to remote places like Luoyang and Dunhuang.

"I'm not expecting a miracle at the end of six months," he said. The name of the game is to get in the minds of people.