By Li Qingqing (Global Times, 20 My 2019) – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared poised to win reelection, according to the exit polls released after India’s general elections ended on Sunday.
Modi’s reelection will further stabilize and improve China-India relations. During Modi’s term of office, India’s relations with China show the trend of steady development. The meeting between President Xi Jinping and Modi in 2018 opened a new chapter for the two countries’ bilateral ties and laid the foundation for future relations.
Some of Modi’s actions triggered controversy in China. Modi invited the so-called president of the “Tibetan government-in-exile” Lobsang Sangay to his swearing-in ceremony in 2014. Modi has also visited the region on the east section of the China-India border – the so-called “Arunachal Pradesh” in India -three times since 2014.
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.
Modi separated political conflicts from economic cooperation, a wise move that brings reciprocal results to both countries. Modi knows that tense relations with China are not in line with India’s interests.
India joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank although the US and Japan strongly opposed. According to the Financial Times in 2018, India emerged as the bank’s biggest beneficiary. India has stuck to its policy of non-alignment and did not adjust its policies toward China according to Washington’s strategy for Beijing. These are all positive diplomatic achievements of the Modi administration.
And these policies will continue if Modi is successfully re-elected. The China-US trade war provides more chances for China-India cooperation and China will turn to India when it is looking for a substitute for imports. India also has more opportunities to enter the Chinese medicine and software markets. Beijing and New Delhi should further seize the opportunity to expand their trade and economic cooperation.
China is also putting efforts into promoting relations with India. China imported more Indian products to further reduce the trade deficit. This brought effective results: Statistics for 2018 showed that the India-China trade deficit fell significantly by $10 billion. India’s dispute with Pakistan is an important factor that influences China-India relations. China always encourages the two countries to build mutual trust through cooperation in trade, economies, anti-terrorism and other areas. As Pakistan and India are both members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, they will have more cooperation within the framework.
India needs to avoid labeling China as its strategic rival or regarding counterbalancing China’s influence as a priority. Or else it will fall into Washington’s strategic trap. India’s great power status in the region was not built by counterbalancing China, but by mutual cooperation.
Modi’s reelection benefits the continuity of his policies toward China and the two countries’ mutual trust. India is China’s important neighbor and the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative has created beneficial results in South Asia. We hope New Delhi can join in the progress and work together with Beijing for the development of India and the region.