XLeaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations gathered in New Delhi for the summit that experts said was held with an eye on China’s growing assertiveness in the region. Leaders of all 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) had gathered in New Delhi on Thursday for the summit that experts said was held with an eye on China’s growing assertiveness in the region. The leaders also attended the Republic Day celebrations on Friday as the chief guests – a first for India.

The landmark event was closely followed in China, which has forged close economic and strategic ties with Asean despite differences with several of its members. On Thursday, China had officially said it was “pleased” to see the development of relations between India and Asean members.

A day after a groundbreaking India-Asean Summit, China’s state-controlled media on Friday described New Delhi as a “beginner” in geopolitics that is using a “bluff” to exaggerate its importance in the region.

But in an editorial titled “India’s geopolitical bluff baffles China”, the nationalistic Global Times tabloid said on Friday: “Some members of the Indian elite enjoy engaging in geopolitical bluster. But they cannot truly gauge the reality of India’s comprehensive strength and diplomatic experience. They are beginners playing at geopolitics.”

The editorial added, “Repeated reports by some Indian media that New Delhi has launched a diplomatic offensive against Beijing are baffling to the Chinese public. “India and Asean have the right to hold the summit, which exerts no negative effect upon China. However, some Indians are tenacious in exaggerating the meeting’s implications to China.”

The editorial described the Sino-Asean relationship as “sound and solid” and said: “In spite of territorial disputes, Beijing-Hanoi (Vietnam) trade volume exceeds that of Beijing and New Delhi. The China-Asean relationship is inclusive and surpasses traditional geopolitics.” The editorial was dismissive of India’s ties with the Asean countries.

“In fact an examination of the China-Southeast Asia relationship suggests that the situation is not like that the Indian media depicts. Asean’s trade volume with China is more than six times that of India, and China’s investment in the region is 10 times that of India,” it said.

The editorial scoffed at India’s apparent efforts to counter China through its ties with other countries.

“China never compares itself to the US, because its GDP is only two-thirds that of the US. However, New Delhi, with a GDP only one-fifth that of China, has been striving to prevail over Beijing in almost all aspects,” it said.

It added: “Honestly speaking, Chinese people are not occupied by India. New Delhi is not Beijing’s major trading partner, and, despite border disputes, is not an imminent security threat to us Chinese.”

The editorial further said China and India should set an example to the world by cooperating without limits despite their territorial disputes. “We hope India has the same will and confidence as China to realise this goal,” it said.

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