The Chinese daily says it is wishful thinking for Europe and India to push forward an alliance of values and it's ultimately unlikely to replace China

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently had a telephonic conversation with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to discuss the prevailing Covid-19 situation in India, besides other trade related issues. Close on the heels of this talk, India had a summit with the EU. For the first time, it was held in EU+27 format with all heads of state and government of the EU members, present in the meeting.

These developments were described as ‘a new chapter for strategic partnership’ and a ‘milestone’, by the European Union leaders. Yet China, on the other hand, believes India has been put on table as a back-up plan for the China-EU deal.

This is a typical Chinese way of underestimation of facts on the ground. Chinese leadership should see the joint statement issued after the India-EU summit. It clearly maintains that India-EU Leaders’ Meeting held on May 8 reflects “a pivotal moment since the first India-EU Summit in 2000 and further strengthens our relationship towards a better future for our people.”

It also states that as the world’s two largest democracies, India and the EU have a common interest in ensuring security, prosperity and sustainable development in a multi-polar world.

But instead of looking at the tone and tenor of the India-EU joint statement, the Global times indulges in its anti-India rhetoric. It maintains that Chinese observers consider sidelining China through an EU-India tie-up is wishful thinking, as disputes between India and Europe such as prevailing protectionism in India and different attitudes on a US-proposed vaccine waiver plan will hinder talks.

But the question is why China is so concerned about the EU-India ties, especially when they are trying to resume talks for the planned Free Trade Agreement. In any deal, China should know, credibility matters. Disruptions of supply chain, lack of transparency in its business dealings and non-adherence to international rules based order—have cast doubt on China’s trustworthiness. Besides, human rights violations of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region by Chinese authorities have left none in doubt what Beijing is up to.

Global Times itself accepts that relationship between China and Europe is “souring due to growing tensions after the EU took a harsh stance on China’s Xinjiang-related issues.” It also admits that these factors apparently weighed on “ratifying the China-EU investment deal.”

Then the question is: Why is China crying from the rooftop when India and the EU have agreed to resume talks for a comprehensive trade agreement and begin negotiations for a standalone investment protection pact?

Unfortunately, Global Times sees things narrowly. It says the EU is cultivating India as a potential competitor to China. Here is a Chinese daily’s skewed judgment of geo political activities across the globe. Fact is India has never seen China as its rival or competitor. It rather follows the ethos of “Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam,” (whole world is one family). Never has it put any road block in the way of any country’s growth and prosperity. International peace, stability and security have been hallmarks of its strategic policy initiative.

Yet the Chinese English daily says, “The EU is eyeing a partnership with India in two major sectors - green development and digital transformation on which Europe has been working closely with China, aiming to amplify both European values and the rivalry between China and India.”

This is nothing but China’s misguided perception. The EU is eyeing close partnership with India because both sides share several commonalities between them. From sharing democratic values to freedom to rule of law and respect for human rights, they share commonality on issues of the multi-polar world, sustainable development goals and climate change. Both sides want a safer, greener, cleaner, resilient and stable world.

Therefore, China’s argument that EU-India or EU-US growing ties are ‘unrealistic’-- holds no water. Beijing should rather evaluate its ties with the Western countries, given that almost the entire world has a harsh feeling for China which is being seen responsible for the outbreak of the pandemic that has led many economies to suffer and face major setbacks, apart from witnessing millions of deaths.