Win by Narendra Modi in Indian polls ‘won't hurt ties with China’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 11:16pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 May, 2014, 11:21pm

As India awaits a new government, neighbouring China is closely watching where the next leader will steer relations.

China is waiting to see if the new leadership will edge closer to the US and Japan as regional rivalries continue to fester. Some in China hope that more trade and China's rising economic clout will soothe India's concerns about a Chinese threat.

Narendra Modi, the man seen by some election observers as the likely new prime minister, has talked tough about China on the campaign trail.

"No power on earth can take away even an inch from India," the leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) told supporters in February.

But Wang Dehua , director of South Asian studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said such chest-beating was more likely a campaign tactic.

"I don't think Modi will undermine India's relationship with China over the border dispute," Wang said.

As the head of Gujarat state, Wang said, Modi was very keen to court Chinese ventures.

"When he visited China a few years ago, he publicly said he wanted more Chinese investment and would turn Gujarat into India's Guangdong," Wang said.

"So when he becomes the prime minister he will only be more co-operative with China."

BJP advisers said in March that as a prime minister, Modi would steer a course between defending India's security interests and boosting business links with China.

BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told China's Global Times last month that the party would ensure "better" bilateral relationships with China and seek to resolve the boundary dispute through "amicable" dialogue if it won the elections.

Mao Siwei , a former consul general for China in Calcutta, said there would be little room for the BJP to take a tougher line than the incumbent Congress party. "The Congress party has never been soft on the critical issue in Sino-India relations - the border dispute. There doesn't seem to be any room for the BJP to adopt an even more assertive China policy than that of the Congress party."


Beijing was not too worried, said Wang, who argued that "no other country can help with India's development like we do".