India must avoid focus on South China sea: Chinese daily

Beijing, China Updated: Aug 10, 2016, 03:49 AM(IST)

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit India to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj on August 13. Photograph:( Reuters )

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 that India's focus on the South China Sea issue at this moment was puzzling as the move 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." Amid unease in ties, 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 the NSG issue.

His visit comes ahead of the G20 Summit scheduled to be held in the Chinese city of Hangzhou next month in which Indian 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 outsider has 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. "Under normal circumstances, defusing the tensions between the two counties will help lay a sound foundation for fostering closer 
economic ties. In this regard, Wang Yi's trip will offer concrete opportunities for India," the daily said.

"India's exports to China have dropped 16.7 per cent year-on-year in the first seven months of the year, Chinese customs data showed on Monday, suggesting that a large number of Indian enterprises are having a hard time exploring the Chinese market amid simmering tensions between the two countries. Regretfully, due attention has not been paid to the living conditions of those Indian firms," it said.

India-China bilateral trade which totalled around $70 billion last year tilted heavily in favour of Beijing with over $46 billion trade deficit.

Wang's visit will be the first high-level visit between the two countries after China stalled India's Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership bid at the Plenary meeting of the 48-nation grouping in June on the grounds that it was a non-NPT signatory.

Wang's visit also comes just days after Chinese troops "transgressed" the border on land and by air in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand last month.

Wang will also be visiting Goa, where India is due to host BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) summit in October.

Meanwhile, another article in the same daily accused India of blocking BRICS initiative to liberalize visa regime for member countries and said getting business visa to India has become a "pain in the butt".

"Given its unusual sensitivity, the Indian authorities' visa policies toward Chinese personnel often reflect the latest twists and turns in the Sino-Indian relations," it said.

It alleged that "in the aftermath of India's failed bid to join the NSG, which New Delhi blamed Beijing as the culprit behind the scenes of their non-admittance, the Indian authorities first refused to renew the visas of three Chinese journalists from Xinhua, then blocked a visa waiver programme for BRICS nationals for security reason."

"Although news about India's latest reform on GST galvanised waves of optimism among business communities across China, for Chinese nationals, a business visa to India remains a pain in the butt," it said.

The article said that although boundary disputes, NSG membership and other "historical episodes" are unlikely to be solved in the short run, it is in both countries' interests to "look beyond and explore the new possibilities".

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