India's Modi to boost China ties

India's Modi to boost China ties
Narendra Modi visits the Mahatma Gandhi memorial in New Delhi before being sworn in as Indian prime minister on Monday. China said it hoped to work with Modi to promote ties with India.

When Narendra Modi wooed investors in China as an Indian provincial leader in 2011, he highlighted his eagerness by making a special gesture.

He presented a business card with one side in Chinese and in red — the colour that symbolizes wealth and good fortune in China.

With Modi taking the oath of office as India's new prime minister on Monday, such attention to China is expected to be repeated.

Modi, 63, led his Bharatiya Janata Party to an electoral landslide this month on a wave of optimism over his ability to revitalize Asia's third-biggest economy. Closer economic ties with India's top trading partner, China, will be high on his agenda, analysts said.

Hu Shisheng, a South Asian studies researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said economic ties would enter a new phase due to Modi's admiration for China's economic development and his achievements in developing Gujarat into one of India's most prosperous states through close cooperation with countries including China.

Much of China's $900 million investment in India is in Gujarat, where Modi served as a three-time chief minister and the state was dubbed "India's Guangdong".

Analysts said Modi's ties with China and his focus on restoring the fortunes of the world's second-most populous nation would temper his hardline nationalist approach.

During his election campaign, he made some hardline remarks on the India-China border issue and on neighbouring Pakistan.

Hu said manufacturing and infrastructure were the priorities for Sino-Indian cooperation, as they could help the new administration to increase employment and improve living standards. "When you focus your mind on boosting the economy, you won't allow the border issue to hinder it," Hu said.

Modi has softened his stance somewhat since his stunning victory and surprised many by inviting Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration.

It was the first time since the two countries won independence in 1947 that a prime minister from one nation had attended such a ceremony in the other.

Saibal Dasgupta, veteran correspondent for The Times of India in Beijing, said India wanted a good relationship with China.

On Monday, Premier Li Keqiang sent congratulations to Modi and expressed willingness to improve ties with India.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a daily news conference that China was looking forward to working with the Modi administration to boost cooperation and regional peace and stability.

Describing Modi as "pragmatic", Sun, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the new Indian leader was seeking a friendly international environment, which included better ties with the US and Japan.

"A breakthrough on border issues is unlikely to emerge during the Modi administration, but he is expected to continue talking with China to see where the interaction will lead," Sun said.

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