BEIJING: Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Arunachal Pradesh earlier this month could add fuel to the territorial disputes between India and China, a leading Chinese daily has said.
Any visit by an Indian prime minister to "the disputed border region" would "undoubtedly step on China's toes and influence bilateral relations", the Global Times, known for its sharp views on India, said in an op-ed piece headlined "Modi border visit an unhelpful irritant".
The article is based on an interview with Hu Shisheng, director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceania Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.
The visit, coming weeks after Minister of External Affairs Susham Swaraj advocated an "out-of-box" solution to Sino-Indian border disputes,"has triggered strong dissatisfaction and opposition from China".
Modi visited Arunachal Pradesh Feb 20 to attend its 23rd State Foundation Day.
During the course of the visit, he flagged off the Naharlagun-New Delhi Express while expressing the hope that the boost in communications through the railways would propel growth and development in Arunachal Pradesh and other parts of the northeast.
"There might be plenty of reasons for Modi to attend the celebration in the disputed zone, including boosting his Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) political influence and winning more support from this area, especially since the Congress party has long dominated India's northeast," the article stated.
"However, he has more reasons not to go, among which the major concern is that a visit could add fuel to the long-standing territorial disputes between China and India, making it difficult to achieve a resolution and irritating bilateral ties."
According to Hu, India's previous coalition governments had weak decision-making ability, leaving them unable to push forward with innovative proposals on the border issue.
"As the new Indian government settles in, now is the best time to bring the border disputes to an end, because a solution requires not only strong will, but also strong political implementation capacity," the expert on strategic studies said.
According to the article, New Delhi and Beijing should apply the principle of mutual understanding and accommodation in solving such disputes.
Stating that the border dispute comes from colonial days, it stated that "identifying the lines of control on each side will be a key step to facilitating the long-stalled process of bringing the disputes to a peaceful resolution".
"As with every other relationship around the world, cooperation and confrontation coexist all the time in Sino-India relations," Hu said.
"This relationship between two rapidly emerging powers is all about how to get on well with one another despite all the controversies and conflicts."
The article pointed out that Modi's government, which is focusing on development and improving people's livelihood, "realises that it must maintain a good relationship with China from which India could derive the markets, technologies and financial support to substantially boost the country's economy".
"In an atmosphere of cooperation, with strong leaders on both sides, the two countries should seize the strategic opportunity to solve their border disputes," it concluded.