Beijing will fight India’s attempts to sour relations with South Asia

China will retaliate if India continues to be uneasy with Beijing’s increasing influence in south Asia and attempts to meddle in its diplomatic relations with countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka, Chinese state media warned on Tuesday.

Indicating that India’s failure to match China’s growing defence and diplomatic clout, the state media article said New Delhi is always “unnerved” to see exchanges between Beijing and south Asian countries.

“China hopes India can understand the pursuit of China and regional countries for common development, and be part of it. However, New Delhi doesn’t share this thinking, instead seeking to balance China,” the article said.

“If such tendencies in India continue, China will have to fight back, because its core interests will have been violated. This is not what we hope for, but the ball is in India’s court,” the nationalistic tabloid Global Times said in a report.

It quoted a Hindustan Times report to suggest that the latest reason for India to be unnerved is the visit of defence minister Chang Wanquan to Sri Lanka and Nepal, which began Sunday.

“The tone of a report in the Hindustan Times sounds vigilant and sour. Claiming that Chang’s visit to Nepal and the first ever China-Nepal joint military drill has made New Delhi ‘nervous’, the newspaper also noted that the Nepalese government ‘cannot afford to say no to Beijing’ as if China is carrying a stick around when interacting with its neighbours,” the Global Times said.

The tone of the GT article then changed to bashing India’s foreign policy in south Asia and in relation to China: without mincing words, it said India controls Bhutan and is the reason when China-Bhutan don’t have diplomatic ties.

“The truth is, however, it is India that has been treating south Asia and the Indian Ocean as its backyard with a hard-line manner. Its uneasiness toward Beijing’s growing influence in the region is obvious. For instance, New Delhi is one of the crucial reasons why China and Bhutan, which is controlled by India economically and diplomatically, have not yet established diplomatic relations,” the article, written by Ai Jun, said.

“India’s vigilance against China has also affected Sri Lanka and Nepal’s relations with Beijing. Even if they are trying to balance between the two giant neighbours, New Delhi still regards their neutrality as a pro-Beijing policy,” Ai wrote.

Ai added: “Whenever a top leader from those countries visits China, the Indian media would hype that India is losing them or China’s emerging weight in south Asia will be New Delhi’s new threat.”

The article had a word of advice for India.

“New Delhi should stop being extremely sensitive toward each and every move between China and its neighbours. Sri Lanka and Nepal are actually looking forward to joint projects with China, given their poor infrastructure,” it said.

“When an increasing number of Chinese companies get established in these countries, it is inevitable that Beijing will boost defence collaboration with them to protect not only China’s, but also the region’s interest.”

The GT article didn’t mention that the Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat will be visiting Nepal between March 28 and March 31 at the invitation of the government of Nepal. ()

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