What a difference one week can make.
At the end of January, as US president Barack Obama arrived in New Delhi to meet prime minister Narendra Modi, China’s state-controlled media wasn’t particularly pleased with India.
“Three days are surely not enough for Obama and Modi to become true friends,” China’s official press agency, Xinhua, noted on Jan. 25, while adding that the trip was ”more symbolic than pragmatic.”
This week, as India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj—accompanied by new foreign secretary, S Jaishankar, a former Indian ambassador to China—flew to Beijing and announced Modi’s plan to visit China by May, the affection swiftly returned.
Chinese daily newspapers—including China Daily, Global Times and People’s Daily—featured Swaraj’s meeting with president Xi Jinping on their front pages, while state television covered her diplomatic engagements keenly.
Here are some more instances of the friendly media coverage.
“For India, which aspires to become a leading player in both regional and global arenas, it pays off by adopting a pragmatic approach in diplomacy. Instead of purely looking to the West. India also attaches great importance to relations with its neighbours,” Xinhua journalist Wang Haiqing noted in a commentary.
“The trilateral regular meeting mechanism for FMs of India, China and Russia, among other arrangements for the three countries to cement ties, is a perfect example showcasing India’s intention to seek a balance when it comes to dealings with major global players.”
“Modi’s visit will likely deepen mutual trust, seek investment and trade opportunities for India and discuss border issues,” Global Times said in a news report.
The nationalistic tabloid also interviewed two analysts for the report.
“In a rare meeting with a visiting foreign minister, the Chinese president has demonstrated the importance he attaches to Sino-Indian relations,” Hu Zhiyong of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences told the newspaper.
Chen Fengjun, a Peking University professor, attempted to explain India’s position: ”India still has concerns over China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. Given India’s enormous influence in South Asia, especially over countries like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, it would be wise for China to dispel such doubts during Modi’s visit and show India that the initiative is really meant to benefit both countries.”
Early evening (India time), the website of the People’s Daily newspaper led with a Xinhua story headlined: “Xi eyes continued correct direction for China-India ties.”
Below is an excerpt from the article:
Recalling his visit to India in September, Xi said his visit initiated a new phase of relationship and that the trend of friendly exchanges and cooperation between the two countries is “very good”.
Xi asked Swaraj to convey his greetings to Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said he “welcome Prime Minister Modi to visit China at an early date.”
China and India should grasp the “opportunity of the century” to combine their development strategies, and push ahead with their strategic cooperation on railways and industrial parks to benefit the 2.5 billion people of the two countries as well as the global economic development, said the Chinese president.
Xi said the two sides should patiently control and manage disputes to prevent them from affecting the overall relationship. He called for sincerity and willingness to pursue a gradual and appropriate resolution of disputes.