Hope India not too silly to 'miss opportunities for fear of China': Global Times editorial
Published: Jul 06, 2023 11:48 PM Updated: Jul 06, 2023 11:43 PM
Shanghai Cooperation Organization Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

According to several Indian media reports, India did not sign the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Economic Development Strategy for 2030 because the document "had too many Chinese catchphrases." The document was a significant achievement of the SCO Summit in New Delhi and had been approved by the Heads of State Council. However, India, as the rotating chair of the organization, became an absentee. In the New Delhi Declaration issued after the summit, there was a section where member states reaffirmed their support for the Belt and Road Initiative, but India refused to include its name as usual, making it appear quite peculiar within the SCO.

In fact, this strategic document isn't "dominated by China" at all. It was initially proposed by Tajikistan with the aim of promoting regional economic cooperation and integration, focusing on the entire region's development. Although the details of the document are not disclosed, it is in line with the consensus of regional countries in the general direction and reflects the collective interests of all member states. China, as a founding member, has provided many valuable new ideas for the development of the SCO. It would be abnormal if an economic development plan like this had no proposition from China. However, even this makes India feel "robbed of its limelight," which reveals the worsening "China hypersensitivity" symptoms in New Delhi.

In fact, does it really matter which words are used in the text or who proposed them? From a practical and rational perspective, it truly doesn't matter. The key is whether the arguments being made are reasonable and whether the proposed actions are appropriate. It is illogical for India to refuse to join simply because there are so-called "Chinese catchphrases" in the document, which inevitably brings to mind the prevalent habit among some politicians in Washington in recent years of "opposing China at every opportunity." Now, some Indian politicians and elites always put their eyes on Washington, and the Indian media's focus is also shifting accordingly. However, instead of learning the good things, they have adopted the detrimental "opposing China at every opportunity" syndrome, which has already proven to be a mistake. It is probably not a good thing for India.

To be honest, it may not necessarily be a bad thing if members lacking team spirit choose not to join or participate in collaborative projects. Take, for example, India's withdrawal from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations; it had no impact on the effectiveness and development of RCEP. Ultimately, India missed an opportunity. India's behavior in multilateral organizations has often been characterized as somewhat peculiar. Western diplomats once said that India considers itself clever but in reality behaves like an immature child, always nitpicking. Chinese netizens have jokingly said that if India were to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, it would exercise the veto power every day, making it impossible to reach any resolutions. While this statement may be somewhat exaggerated, it is worth contemplating for India.

India's distinctive character, combined with its wariness, vanity, and desire to compete with China, has created an unusual sensitivity or even rejection of China's voice. The delicate relationship between the two major Asian countries has fueled ill intentions of external powers to seek to gain advantages from it. The efforts of the US and the West to woo India and the risks to butter India up are increasing, but this won't enhance India's value. It can, however, create an illusion that tempts India into making incorrect choices and judgments. India's role and influence within organizations such as the SCO and BRICS are inevitably affected, and this is what India truly needs to be vigilant about.

Whether a country deserves respect within an international organization lies in what kind of public goods it can provide to other nations, rather than overpowering others. On the international stage, no one possesses an inherent "halo of protagonist." It is understandable that India desires to be in the spotlight, but if it attains the position by pushing all others aside, the very essence of the center stage will vanish. In reality, India lacks the capability to accomplish such a feat. As the Chinese saying goes, the key lies in diligently improving oneself, which is more formidable than anything else.