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Narendra Modi may pursue Manmohan Singh’s foreign policy: Chinese media

LiveMint logoLiveMint 16-06-2014 K.J.M Varma

Beijing: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may still not have unveiled his foreign policy but he may follow his predecessor Manmohan Singh’s diplomatic initiatives, official media of China said on Monday.

“After being sworn into office, India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shared little about his foreign policy platform with the outside world. This generates increasing interest and speculation,” state-run Global Times said.

India’s foreign policy has tremendous historical burdens. Modi’s agenda will depend on how he perceives his predecessors’ achievements and what vision he himself has for India, it said.

In 2003, it was Atal Bihari Vajpayee, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) premier who picked up and carried forward a rapprochement policy with Pakistan—a platform started by his predecessor P.V. Narasimha Rao and interrupted by the Kargil crisis in 1999 and the terrorist attack on the Indian parliament in 2001, the Global Times said.

Singh inherited Vajpayee’s Pakistan policy. He insisted on largely calm, measured response to Mumbai attacks in 2008 and kept overtures toward Pakistan.

Since the 1990s, India’s position on border issue with China witnessed a pragmatic improvement in Rao’s time, a legacy Vajpayee maintained in his 2003 visit to China by departing from India’s traditional approach and agreeing to negotiations based on “territorial give-and-take” rather than asserting China was the aggressor and must vacate disputed territories, it said.

“Singh adhered to this principle and significantly improved India-China relations. In 2013, Singh made a historic visit to China with the signing of Border Defense Cooperation Agreement (BDCA), in which both countries pledged not to use force in case of face-offs. Presumably, this can enhance bilateral trust and lead to concrete confidence-building measures along the border before a final settlement can be found,” the Chinese daily said.

“With little information on hand, it is not a smart move to predict what foreign policy Modi will adopt. But when we say Modi takes Vajpayee as his political mentor, we are anticipating an inheritance will be maintained. Coming into power with less of a historical burden, Modi has more flexible choices than Singh,” it said. “How much will he choose to inherit? Not sure. Changes in the air? Sure, but more continuity overall,” the Global Times said.

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