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Enter the Dragon

Reports have also suggested that the Chinese President wishes to host Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his hometown Xian, given their growing personal rapport. Many in the American establishment suggested that US President Barack Obama’s recent visit had ushered progress in the creation of a ‘linchpin’ in its rebalancing strategy in Asia.

They saw the Indo-US joint-statement’s implicit ‘warning’ to China over its activities in the South China Sea, as an indication of America’s rebalancing strategy. New Delhi, however, has made it clear that India’s independent foreign policies would not allow any third power to forge a common front against China. Officials in both Washington and New Delhi are also certain that the US cannot match China as an investor in Modi’s ‘Make in India’ project. Our prime minister’s agenda to develop India’s infrastructure and manufacturing sectors, since they hold massive potential to generate jobs, makes China the ideal partner, given its recent experience. The proposed railway project by China in India, involving $32 billion, and Beijing’s $20 billion investment plan to set up industrial parks will only further enhance ties. Given Washington’s paltry $4 billion commitment during Obama’s recent visit, it would be foolish to suggest that New Delhi has put all its eggs in the American basket.

In fact signs from New Delhi suggest that the Centre is anxious about plans set by the Americans and their lobbyists in India to cast an uncertain shadow on Modi’s forthcoming visit to China. On its part, however, Beijing has acknowledged that relations with New Delhi had entered a new period of ‘major-country relations.’ The Chinese establishment has reinforced its efforts to engage with their Indian counterparts. Beijing has invited New Delhi to participate in the Silk Road Economic belt and the Maritime Silk Road. Both these projects, formulated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, seek to integrate national economies within the larger Eurasia region.

New Delhi’s foreign policy strategy, as recent events suggest, has been to establish a greater role for itself across all major international economic forums. Despite some of the pointed remarks that were made against China’s growing presence in the South China Sea in the Indo-US joint statement, it would wise to expect that New Delhi will continue to court investment from Beijing. In fact Modi has spent years developing his relationship with China, especially during his tenure as Gujarat chief minister. It is also important to note that unlike the Americans, the Chinese did not deny him a visa. The success of Modi’s foreign policy push, however, will depend on how his government negotiates with China over future conflagrations on the border and the South China Sea.  

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