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China media mocks India's 'GDP own goal'

India Today logo India Today 02-06-2017

China's media has seen India's less-than-expected 6.1 per cent GDP growth in the January-March quarter as "an own goal" that was a result of "drastic" reform measures including the demonetisation move.

"It seems that India has suffered a setback in the 'elephant versus dragon' race, with an unexpected slowdown in its economy helping China regain the title of fastest-growing major economy in the first quarter," said a column on Friday in the hardline tabloid Global Times, written by reporter Xiao Xin.

It was published in the English-language website which is intended mainly for an international audience and hence often makes provocative arguments.

While the Global Times is published by the official People's Daily, which is the Communist Party's official mouthpiece, it often adopts hardline positions that reflect the views some sections of the party but isn't necessarily the official view.

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The commentary said, "The reality also shows how poorly the economy is weathering demonetisation. That being the case, the Indian government should seriously think twice about reformist drives as drastic as the November decision. While an 'iron fist' approach to socio-economic reform in India, seems indispensable to steer the country toward prosperity, shock treatment should probably be avoided. After all, cash remains what most Indian people rely on to set everyday life in motion."

"The Indian government," it added, "needs to implement more effective policies to spur private investment, an apparently weak link in an economy mostly driven by consumer demand and government spending. Hopefully, no own goals will be scored in the future as India continues its reform efforts."

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A separate commentary in the newspaper, authored by strategic expert Liu Zongyi of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, said of India's decision to boycott the May 14 Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in Beijing that while "India's presence would not have exerted any influence on the success of the forum" some Chinese observers "worry that its suspicion over the Belt and Road initiative would worsen China-India relations."

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Noting that Indian media and experts had suggested that an "Asia Africa Growth Corridor" initiative mentioned by Prime Minister Modi at the recent meeting of the African Development Bank in Gujarat was a counter to the One Belt, One Road, as was an attempt by the U.S. to revive its flagging New Silk Road push along with India, Liu said, "Indian government functionaries and media outlets have been displaying desperate strategic anxiety as they take all international cooperation aimed at inter-connectivity as a countermeasure to the Belt and Road, when even Washington and Tokyo dispatched delegations at the 11th hour to Beijing."

"Beijing does not repel these designs and, if there is any possibility, hopes to integrate them with the Belt and Road," he said. "The connectivity projects by New Delhi and Japan, though raised either to compete with or contain China's sphere of influence, have objectively facilitated trade cooperation, which is exactly China's original intention. India's soft power through wide economic collaboration and people-to-people exchanges with African nations is worthwhile for China to learn from."

While India and China were working on a number of projects bilaterally, Liu said it was "difficult to push forward a number of shovel-ready projects due to the Indian government's political concerns."

He added that as Chinese leader Xi Jinping had mentioned at the BRF, the initiative was still open to all countries. "Therefore, as long as the leaders of other countries do not impose self-reclusiveness or take suggestions from ignorant advisers in order to win elections by inciting nationalism and populism to create estrangement, the Belt and Road project will, as always, be welcoming with open arms to them," said Liu.

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