A second visit by a sitting US president to India, the first time on record, has undoubtedly drawn wide attention from the international community. However, the tricky part of so much attention is that, as we watched Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greet US President Barack Obama with a bear hug at Delhi airport on Sunday, many eyes, naturally, have turned to a third party - China.
Many reports by Western media have pointed out that the US, regardless of historical complications, is putting more efforts into soliciting India to act as a partner, even an ally, to support Washington's "pivot to Asia" strategy, which is mainly devised to counter China's rise. As for India, which has ambitions to be a major power, it needs US investment, technologies and political support so that its "Look East" foreign policy will better function to counterbalance China's growing influence.
Through these reports, there seems to be only a fixed pattern to observe Sino-Indian relations. Recent years have witnessed a tendency in international public opinion that whenever India makes a move, it is perceived to be aimed at China. This time, the stereotyped mindset seems to have prevailed again when the US president and Indian prime minister hugged in New Delhi.
This fixed pattern of thinking was created and hyped up by the West, which, with ulterior motives, regards the "Chinese dragon" and the "Indian elephant" as natural rivals. This theory, under the strong publicity campaigns of the West, has become plausible even in both Indian and Chinese public opinion, although it is more popular in India than in China.
The West is egging India on to be fully prepared for "threats" posed by its large neighbor. Considering the fact that both sides still have territorial disputes and will probably have wider engagement at many levels, this so-called rivalry between India and China will not stop making headlines in Western media.
However, a trap is a trap. Although craftily set, it will be revealed eventually. Putting aside debates over specific issues, China and India must keep in mind that their relations cannot take a life-or-death struggle as a foothold. The common interests they share are way larger than any differences. As both are emerging powers, which have the huge potential of being important forces in the international community, China and India should see more space for cooperation instead of contention. This agreement is fundamental to bilateral relations.
A zero-sum game is not what China and India are asking for, but under Western influence, India is sliding into it. Beijing and New Delhi should come to terms with a bottom line of interactions, making sure the big picture remains intact, although both sides still have disagreements on some specific matters.