The US and Japan were plotting to play China against India for strategic depth in the region, a government newspaper said on Monday, adding that Beijing needs to have a clear diplomatic strategy to engage with New Delhi and deter the “plot”.
The usually stringently nationalistic Global Times’s Chinese version, part of the umbrella group of People’s Daily, further said that China doesn’t have clear strategy to deal with India, possibly because it doesn’t perceive its neighbour to be a threat.
It’s only New Delhi’s increasing closeness to Washington that has made Beijing sit up and take notice of its populous neighbour after the two signed the civil nuclear deal, the opinion piece seemed to indicate.
Expectedly, it referred to a controversial statement and new development to say that “China-India relations are currently undergoing positive changes”.
First, it referred to former army chief and Arunachal Pradesh governor General (retd) J. J. Singh’s comment that India should do away with its non-negotiable stand on the border dispute with China; and secondly, the article indicated that China was pleased that India had extracted itself out from exploring oil in the South China sea.
Written by Sun Peisong, head of the Jiangsu Lianyungang Research Institute, the timing of the piece was interesting: it coincides with Indian foreign minister SM Krishna’s short visit to Beijing, beginning Tuesday, as observer at the Shanghai Cooperation Summit.
In what seemed to be an unexpected gust of diplomatic optimism, Global Times said: “Indian does not have a history of militarism, and does not want to become a super power. In the international community, it is generally thought that India’s ambition is less than that of South Korea or Japan. So China has never considered India a threat, even though the 1998 nuclear explosion was said to be directed against China, China still does not consider India to be a real threat.”
But in spite of differences, it said: “For a long time, India has not figured as an important centre of Chinese foreign policy. China has not decided on a clear goal in its India policy. Now, the activity of Chinese military in the Indian Ocean has increased. The Indian Navy is also sailing more and more towards the East. The lack of mutual trust may lead to both sides adopting a wrong strategy.”
India, Sun said, has traditionally not flip-flopped between groups, but has sought political independence. “India’s not joining the US camp is beneficial to China. China and India should become friends.”