Beijing’s India experts in the top think tanks are busy preparing for Premier Wen Jiabao’s visit to India next month and keeping a keen eye on US President Barack Obama who will get there first this weekend.
They are waiting to hear what Obama says on a permanent seat for India at the UN Security Council and the export of sensitive technologies. While the state-run Chinese media remains suspicious of US engagements in India and South Asia, mainstream think tankers have begun pointing out that the rhetoric in the official media may not necessarily be the official view. The mood in Beijing is to set the pace for a positive outcome from Wen’s visit.
Beijing scholars are not alarmed that Obama described India as the ‘cornerstone’ of US engagement in Asia. Obama came to China first in November 2009 and released a joint statement which seemed to give China a dominant say in South Asian affairs, saying that both sides ‘support the improvement and growth of relations between India and Pakistan.’
“Chinese policymakers will watch the Obama visit, and the results of this visit, carefully and closely,’’ Rong Ying, vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, a foreign ministry think tank, told HT. A South Asia expert at Peking University said that China isn’t concerned about a reciprocal exchange of visits between Singh and Obama but interested in analysing the agreements they sign.
“Deepening of the India-US relationship does not mean that China will lose,’’ Rong pointed out. “China doesn’t have to worry or be concerned as long as it doesn’t target China. India and the US will work on global issues that are important for China as well.’’
An analyst at the Renmin University in Beijing also told the Global Times that Beijing does not need to ‘overreact’ to the visit as long as it does not threaten China. The newspaper’s recent editorial said the 'US return brings uncertainty to Asia'. “Leaders of world powers just happen to visit India one after another in a short period, but it doesn’t mean India’s international influence has virtually improved,” analyst Fu Xiaoqiang told the paper.