Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh finished a three-day visit to Myanmar today. Many Indian and Western media linked this visit with China's interests in Myanmar, hinting that India's diplomatic effort highlighted its determination to compete with China in the former British colony.
Whether China's diplomats in Myanmar agree to this is still in question. But inside China, Singh's visit failed to draw any notable attention. Most Chinese media only mentioned this news in brief, citing foreign news agencies. The rhetoric of China competing with India over Myanmar does not exist here.
There are indeed some Chinese enterprises that have suffered from Myanmar's recent transition, and there are Chinese businesspeople attempting to dictate opportunities there. However, this thinking is motivated by business interests, which cannot be taken as a reflection of China's general attitude to Myanmar. Most Chinese want to see an open and democratic Myanmar. They do not wish the country to remain controlled by the junta, isolated from every country but China.
As a fully opened-up country, China is not interested in dictating another country's foreign relations. It is abnormal, and cannot be sustained. Besides, history has shown us that its cons often outweigh its pros.
And it is not just Myanmar. China would also welcome North Korea opening itself to the world, normalizing its relationships with South Korea, Japan and the US.
Myanmar's opening up will not weaken its bilateral ties with China. This is the confidence China has. As Myanmar's neighbor and the strongest in the economic, political and military fronts, China encourages Myanmar to find what is best for its national interests on the international stage, and China firmly believes that it can always hold an influential position there. The Myanmese know this better than anyone else.
China welcomes India and other Western countries to invest in Myanmar and bring the country to prosperity, as it will create more opportunities for our provinces that border the country, though we are a bit concerned over whether these countries can put their words into action.
Some Indian media are obsessed with portraying a scenario of China and India in competition. It is probably driven by a sentiment of wanting to be seen as being equally important as China.
But to ordinary Chinese, their knowledge about India only comes from a few movies, some news reporting and backpackers' anecdotes.
These bits and pieces are not enough to promote India to China's mainstream society, let alone the notion of a competition. Most Chinese still expect India to stay friends with China and not bring any problems.
Currently, what India uses to catch Chinese people's attention are mostly messages of confrontation. It has made China the target of almost every subject. This is confusing and unpleasant to us. India does not have to build its pride this way.