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India watchers predict Modi will be tough on border talks with China

May 20, 2014

May 15, 2014 - China's official circles are trying to analyze if Narendra Modi, who is expected to take over as Prime Minister, would take a strident nationalistic approach on the border dispute with China. But most Chinese experts are predicting Modi would take a "pragmatic" and flexible approach towards China.

Some India watchers in China are asking if Modi would shape into "another Shinzo Abe" in the Asian region while referring to the Japanese prime minister, who has taken a strong nationalistic stance on the China-Japan dispute over ownership of the Diaoyu Islands.

One expert with a government think-tank has suggested Modi use the presence of the Dalai Lama as a bargaining chip.

"BJP has long held a hard-line position toward China. Modi will no doubt inherit the party's stance. He will be tougher against Beijing and use border disputes, the Tibet question and the Dalai Lama to bargain with China," Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow with the Institute of International Relations at the Shang- hai Academy of Social Sciences.

China has been closely watching the situation since last February when Modi said in a public meeting in Arunachal Pradesh that Beijing to abandon its "expansionist attitude" and said India would not concede any territory. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own.

Beijing is expected to test the next government's approach to the issue of Chinese investments by the manner in which it deals with the issue of equipment sales by telecom giant, Huawei.

"There are also so-called security concerns over Chinese investment, which has led to denials of major investment by telecom giant Huawei in the country," Hu was quoted by the Beijing based Global Times as saying.

The paper also quoted Fu Xiaoqiang, a research fellow with the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, saying that Modi will place a great importance on Chinese investments for infrastructure development.

"Economic development and improving people's liveli- hoods are expected to be high on his agenda once he is elected prime minister," Fu said. "There is the possibility that he will expand Sino-India economic and trade cooperation and seek more Chinese investment," he said.

China may need to do some smart buying from India if it expects a relaxed approach by the next government. India is sore about the huge trade deficit against China, which reached $31.4 billion in 2013, according to Chinese government data.

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