China banks on Narendra Modi re-election to improve ties with India

Beijing has started sending strong signals to New Delhi on how Narendra Modi’s re-election would enhance “trust” in bilateral ties after the recent exit polls have indicated that the Indian prime minister is poised to return to power.

Chinese mouthpiece Global Times in an article has said that there has been steady growth in relations which was taken to a different level with the Wuhan informal summit, despite the fact that the five-year stint has not been absolutely incident free. There have been controversies where tensions soared, especially the Doklam military stand-off in June 2017.

Speaking to ANI news agency the Chinese ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui called Doklam a disagreement between brothers.

“Something going wrong between two great neighbouring countries is natural, just like brothers of a family living under one roof have issues, it is very natural”, he said.

“If you compare family exchanges of 2,000 years, some minor problems are nothing. Of course, it’s not nothing and we didn’t ignore that matter. We worked together and resolved the problem, which ensured that bilateral relations were back on normal track,” he added.

The Global Times article mentions Prime Minister’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, his invitation to Prime Minister of “Tibetan government-in-exile” Lobsang Sangay to his swearing-in ceremony in 2014, but justifies them as Bharatiya Janata Party’s narrative building.

(Image: Shailesh Raval)

“These acts were mostly to drum up support for his Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP]. In recent years, nationalism and the trend of returning to Hinduism have increased in India, somewhat containing Modi’s policies toward China. But generally speaking, Modi’s policies have been sound,” reads the article.

The essence of the article is that Modi separated “political conflicts” from “economic cooperation”. In the long run, China believes India can be the great partner and alternative to the United States of America should the trade war further spiral downwards.

Pushing for more cooperation between India and Pakistan, China once again has emphasised the importance of Islamabad in its strategic structure. The article urges naysayers in India not to label China as a “strategic rival” and fall into Washington’s trap. It also tries to push the idea of Belt and Road Initiative as one that is beneficial for India.

For now, while China exudes positivity in Prime Minister Modi’s return to power, the new establishment in New Delhi will have to weigh its options and tread the strategic and diplomatic path carefully keeping India’s interest at the forefront.


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