Chinese state media has praised India’s decision to refuse to patrol the South China Sea with the US. In the second commentary within a week on the proposed India-US joint patrol issue, an article in the state-run, Global Times said: “The New Delhi government pursues pragmatic diplomacy and strives to reach a balance between the US and China. Some interpret New Delhi’s refusal (to jointly patrol the SCS) as retaliation against Washington’s approval of weapon sales to Islamabad last year.”
“This may be true. Yet, the fundamental reason is that New Delhi understands the significance of a sound China-India relationship to the nation’s development. India cannot afford to lose China’s support, which serves as an economic engine for the nation’s growth,” an editorial said.
A Reuters report in February had claimed the United States and India had held talks about joint naval patrols in the South China Sea.
Indian Ministry of External Affairs said later the Reuters report was false.
“We have denied it. There are no joint patrols,” said Anil Wadhwa, secretary (East) at India’s Ministry of External Affairs at the start of the Delhi Dialogue VIII forum on 17 February.
The Global Times post also slammed the US for “following a ‘divide and rule’ policy”.
“In addition, New Delhi has officially taken over the presidency of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) from Moscow last month and will host the eighth summit within a few months. A friendly atmosphere is significant for the upcoming summit,” it added.
Global Times, a newspaper owned by China’s Communist Party, is known for its strident editorials.
“By refusing the US proposal, India is taking a stand and showing goodwill to China” the mouth piece of the ruling Communist Party said.
Editorials of state-owned media in China, like Global Times, generally reflects the Communist Party viewpoint.
The editorial argued that “the White House is just manoeuvring India for its own interests” and that the US is “wary of India’s rise”.
“From US perspective, China, Russia and India are all threatening its status as a superpower. The US does not want to see a stronger India,” it said.
Official relations between the world’s two fastest growing economies have come a long way since the two fought a brief border war in 1962.
China and India agreed to begin military exchanges and establish a hotline linking army commanders on either side of their disputed border last year.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed at a meeting in May to start annual visits between their militaries, expand exchanges between border commanders and start using a military hotline.
Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has also lauded the burgeoning trade and investment ties between India and China.
“China had been a significant contributor to the global growth in the past decade,” the Indian Finance Minister said last year.
“Great economies do compete with each other and that does not mean they become opponents,” he said while facing media questions on the ‘rivalry’ between the two neighbours.
BRICS members China, India and Russia are also the three largest shareholders in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), with a voting share of 26.06 per cent, 7.5 per cent and 5.92 per cent, respectively.
India has partnered with China on both the BRICS Bank and the AIIB.