New Delhi: A year after Narendra Modi took office as India’s prime minister, the two countries have taken an unprecedented step: deepening ties.
With Modi’s BJP in power, India has opened up its markets, and China has stepped up its efforts to promote its interests.
But the two are also determined to deepen their ties, and the two have shown their willingness to work together on many issues, including trade and defence.
India is seeking closer cooperation with China in defence and energy sectors.
Modi has already announced a $500 billion aid package to help China improve its defences, including in the maritime domain.
China is India’s largest trading partner, accounting for about a third of India’s GDP.
But China is also India’s main source of foreign exchange and has become the country’s largest foreign investor, with more than $4 trillion in foreign currency transactions last year.
China has also been pressing India to curb its nuclear and missile programmes, and to boost India’s military spending to fund the modernization of its forces.
It has also made efforts to bolster ties with the US and Japan, as well as with other Asian countries, in recent years.
On Friday, Modi will inaugurate a large-scale roadshow in the western state of Gujarat, which borders Pakistan.
The roadshow will be Modi’s first visit to the state, which has been the site of fierce protests over a decade-long military crackdown on Muslim separatists, including militant outfits.
In recent years, there has been a shift in Modi’s approach to India’s neighbours.
In his election campaign, he repeatedly criticised China for meddling in the affairs of its neighbours, but his approach has since shifted, with the government looking to strengthen ties with China, and he is now promoting the use of nuclear weapons.
In the first five months of this year, India exported nearly $100 billion worth of goods to China, which was an increase of about 30 per cent compared to the same period last year, according to the Trade Ministry.
India has also increased its trade with the United States, as part of a plan to diversify its trade partners, according a statement issued by the ministry.
Modi will discuss his strategy with US President Donald Trump at a White House summit in the coming days.
China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang said in January that China was prepared to strengthen economic and political ties with India if India took a hard line against Pakistan.
China and India are not technically allies but share the common goal of building up their economies and developing their common space and security interests, the statement said.