Independent diplomacy can help India pursue intl status

By Xu Hailin Source:Global Times Published: 2019/8/25 21:33:39

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited by France to be part of the ongoing G7 summit in France, which gave Modi an ideal opportunity to show up under the spotlight. After the landslide win in the general elections in May, Modi has gained an unprecedented chance to practice his political views, including seeking a more important international status for New Delhi.

Rapid economic development has given Modi the confidence to do so. According to the IMF's World Economic Outlook (October 2018), India is expected to become the world's fifth-largest economy following Germany in 2019 with an estimated GDP close to $3,000 billion.

We can see the West is attaching increasing importance to India from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's remarks on June 10 that India is "an important part of President Donald Trump's strategy in the Indo-Pacific" and from the presence of Modi at the G7 summit. 

However, such importance is to some extent an outcome of the West's scheme to use India as leverage to contain China.

Ambitious to improve its international status, the Modi administration can certainly choose to help balance the rise of China, but it should not overlook the fact that India is benefiting from China as its exports to China have increased by about 32 percent to $8.46 billion during the June-November 2018 period compared to $6.37 billion in the same period of 2017. 

As the world's second-largest economy, China is an important economic and trade partner that Asian countries cannot ignore in their development. This is also true for India. It looks like New Delhi has been given alternative strategic choices, but it is actually more difficult for the Modi administration to make the move. 

The Modi administration is also facing a test of mitigating and stabilizing the regional situation. Take India-controlled Kashmir. Modi's surprising move to revoke the special status of Kashmir is a double-edged sword. 

The move will help Modi's religious nationalist policies gain support from more people, especially believers of Hinduism, but it will also intensify opposition between different religions within the country.

Internationally, this move will lead to great uncertainties in the India-Pakistan relationship, which is not good news for India in its pursuit of international status. Due to the Kashmir dispute, many South Asian countries, which India treats as its "little brothers," will probably reevaluate their relations with India. 

Such being the case, it is wise for the Modi administration to choose a more comprehensive foreign policy, easing tensions with Pakistan and considering more regional stability and development. This is where a regional superpower's responsibility and obligation lie. 

China has been supporting India to play a constructive and important role in regional affairs, even when India could possibly choose the US Indo-Pacific Strategy that aims at containing China. 

Beijing believes that New Delhi will adhere to an independent foreign policy, because only in this way can India play the role of a big country in regional development and stability in the future, although this is a tough task in the current international situation.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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