IT IS MORE PRE­OC­CU­PIED WITH THE GROWING CHAL­LENGE THE US

CHINA’S OVER­RID­ING STRATE­GIC CON­CERN IS NOT IN­DIA, AND ITS PART­NERS POSE ON ITS PE­RIPH­ERY

India Today - - COVER STORY -

deepen eco­nomic ties both with Pak­istan and In­dia. CPEC is not just a project for China and Pak­istan, but in the fu­ture may be ex­tended to In­dia, Iran and Afghanistan and ben­e­fit the re­gion if re­lated coun­tries could set­tle their dis­putes and dif­fer­ences. China doesn’t have a vi­cious in­ten­tion to­wards In­dia through CPEC.”

For China, the pull of In­dia’s mar­ket is another in­creas­ingly prom­i­nent fac­tor in its cal­cu­lus, emerg­ing as po­ten­tial lever­age for Delhi and a fur­ther com­pli­ca­tion in its Pak­istan dilemma. Bei­jing is more than aware that In­dia’s mar­ket is the big­gest in its western pe­riph­ery. China’s e-com­merce and real es­tate bil­lion­aires like Jack Ma and Wang Jian­lin are making thrice-a-year trips to In­dia, not Pak­istan. As much as both coun­tries in­sist that eco­nomic ties may run on a par­al­lel track, in­creas­ingly ad­verse public opin­ion in In­dia, evinced in re­cent vi­ral so­cial me­dia calls to boy­cott Chi­nese goods that even help­fully showed con­sumers how to iden­tify ‘Made in China’ bar­codes, un­der­line this may not al­ways be the case.

This presents a chal­lenge for both coun­tries, says for­mer am­bas­sador Kan­tha, to man­age an in­creas­ingly com­plex re­la­tion­ship. The prob­lem is, this task has be­come all the more dif­fi­cult with the rein­tro­duc­tion of Pak­istan as a prom­i­nent fac­tor. “China also has a de­sire to strike a bal­ance,” says Kan­tha. “In­dia is not ex­pect­ing China to down­grade re­la­tions with Pak­istan as a pre­req­ui­site for en­hanc­ing re­la­tions. But what we re­ally ex­pect is that when we look at as­pects of China’s en­gage­ment with Pak­istan that have a neg­a­tive im­pli­ca­tion for us, they must un­der­stand our con­cerns.” “The nar­ra­tive about In­dia-China re­la­tions,” he adds, “is get­ting a lit­tle vi­ti­ated. This isn’t de­sir­able for ei­ther coun­try.” Chang­ing this nar­ra­tive, for Modi and Xi, will per­haps be the most press­ing task when they meet in Goa.

Fol­low the writer on Twit­ter @anan­thkr­ish­nan

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