India should avoid ‘entanglement’ in South China Sea: Chinese media

India should avoid “unnecessary entanglement” in the South China Sea dispute during Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to New Delhi to prevent it becoming yet “another factor” to impact bilateral ties, a state-run Chinese daily said on Tuesday.

“India may want to avoid unnecessary entanglement with China over the South China Sea debate during Wang’s visit if the country wishes to create a good atmosphere for economic cooperation, which would include reducing tariffs on made-in-India products exported to China amid the ongoing free trade talk known as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership,” an article in the state-run Global Times said.

“India is expected to allow only moderate tariff reduction on made-in-China products under the talks in a bid to preserve its domestic industries. If India wants China to be more generous in terms of tariff reduction, it would be unwise for the country to let its relationship with China deteriorate further at this moment,” it said.

The daily said it is puzzling that India is focusing on the South China Sea issue at this moment, a move which it said might risk “unnecessary side effects” to bilateral ties and potentially create obstacles for Indian exporters hoping to increase their presence in China, the world’s second largest importer.

Underlining that tensions between China and India have been increasing in recent months owing to a series of political incidents, it said, “Considering that India does not face territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea, is it worth letting the South China Sea issue become another factor that will impact India’s cooperation with China? India should consider this.”

Wang will arrive in India to hold talks with his counterpart Sushma Swaraj on August 13 during which key regional and bilateral issues will be discussed, including India’s bid for membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

His visit comes ahead of the G20 Summit to be held in the Chinese city of Hangzhou next month in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to take part.

Following the ruling by an international tribunal last month which rejected Beijing’s claims over much of the disputed sea area, China is campaigning against the issue to be raised in G20 Summit, saying it is a matter to be resolved between parties concerned and outsiders have no role.

“In fairness, after dozens of countries have expressed support for China’s stance in the South China Sea, India’s attitude toward the issue may not be as important as the nation had imagined,” the article said.

“While many Indian people have been focused on the South China Sea ahead of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s upcoming trip to the country, less attention has been paid to the recent fall in exports of made-in-India products to China,” it said.

It said India should move its focus from geopolitical competition to economic issues to stop a further decline in exports to China.
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