Beijing: Playing down India’s decision to sign a logistic agreement with the US, Chinese state media on Monday said the proposed deal is stalled because of distrust between the two as India wants to be the “most beautiful woman” wooed by all, especially Washington and Beijing.
“Besides their traditional distrust, the speculation heralding a US-India alliance is also an obvious underestimation of India’s ambition for a role of swing-state between superpowers,” an article in the state-run Global Times said as Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar started his first visit to Beijing on Monday for talks with Chinese officials.
“The basic idea is that India would like to continue to be the most beautiful woman wooed by all men, notably the two strongest in the house, US and China,” the article titled ‘Indo-US strategic distrust stalls LSA signing’.
“This is not an unfamiliar role to India. We can still recall how its diplomatic manoeuvring had earned itself a special role between the two competing blocs during the Cold War,” it said.
“Evidently enough, it needs to feel its way forward and try not to agitate China by crossing the bottom line and consequently it declines to discuss the prospect of joint patrols in the South China Sea, despite the obvious interest and much enthusiasm from its American counterpart,” it said.
Last week, US defence secretary Ashton Carter concluded his three-day visit to India and announced he and his Indian counterpart have agreed in-principle that all the issues regarding a Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) are resolved and both sides would finalise the text in the coming weeks.
Highlighting India’s decision to sign the LSA, the report said: “Despite a whole range of strategic issues being covered in the visit, the topic of the logistics agreement itself has triggered speculation among international media that both sides are boarding the same boat to contain China.”
In essence, the LSA’s purpose is to share military bases for logistical purposes, including refuelling and repair.
“Therefore it is very much similar to the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA), a traditional agreement the US has with many of its NATO allies,” the article said.
“That’s why it has triggered speculation that both sides are moving toward a military alliance arrangement”, it said.
In 2007, the US and Sri Lanka signed an ACSA to allow exchange of logistics supplies during peacekeeping missions, humanitarian operations, and joint exercises.
Another article, titled ‘India seeks interests from geopolitical tension,’ in the daily, said the LSA “is drawing the US and India into an undeclared military alliance.”
“India’s diplomatic manoeuvring risks dampening cooperation among the China-Russia-India triangle and the BRICS,” it said but quickly added that “tensions between the US and China and Russia in terms of geopolitics have provided India with admirable strategic opportunities.”
Although Indian officials and scholars claim there is no change in India’s traditional non-alignment policy and that it will continue its strategic independence, the non-alignment policy “under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has far transcended the spirit of ‘non-alignment’,” it said.
The article claimed India’s foreign policy has entered an era of non-alignment 3.0, featured by three characteristics:
“India, instead of maintaining a neutral position, takes sides with countries like the US and Japan in islands and maritime disputes concerning Asia-Pacific security at the risk of escalating confrontation and conflicts in the region,” it said.
Second, India shirks its responsibilities and distances itself from China and Russia in dealing with some global problems such as the Middle East conflicts in order to avoid confrontations with the West, it alleged.
“(And) finally, it takes advantage of geopolitical conflicts between the US, Japan and China, Russia to gain maximum interests for itself. We hope India won’t go too far as a swing power”, it said.
“India joined the BRICS because it shares consistent interests with China and Russia in building a multi-polar world and a new international rule-making process,” it said.
“But with the slowdown of BRICS economic growth, some Indian scholars claimed BRICS brings few opportunities to India.”
This year’s BRICS summit is to be held in India. The topics on the table mainly focus on economic and social development, lacking coordination over regional and global affairs.
Geopolitics matters a lot in India’s foreign policy, the article said.
“India hopes to counterbalance China through strengthened strategic and security cooperation with countries including Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines. It’s also reinforcing cooperation with the US,” it said.