China’s non-democratic path is not for India: Manmohan

Washington, Nov 24 ( Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought to downplay the recent US-China joint statement saying it’s not of “direct concern” to him, but asserted that India will not choose the “non-democratic” Chinese path of high economic growth, but its own route of democracy and development.

“What happens between President Obama and Chinese President Hu is not of direct concern to us,” he said Monday during an interaction with policy wonks at the Council on Foreign Relations, the influential US think-tank.

He was responding to a question on a section of the recent US-China joint statement envisaging a role for Beijing in South Asia’s developments and in India-Pakistan affairs that triggered apprehensions in India about the Obama administration appeasing China at the cost of India.

The joint statement was issued after the talks between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing last week.

The statement cast a shadow over the visit of Manmohan Singh to the US, strengthening the impression among some quarters that the Obama administration was more focussed on China than maintaining momentum of ties with India which were transformed by a landmark nuclear deal last year.

In a bid to repudiate any impression of rivalry between India and China, the two rising Asian powers, Manmohan Singh underlined that engagement was the best way to promote the peaceful rise of China.

“We want the world to prepare for the peaceful rise of China as a major power. Engagement is the right path for India as well as the US,” he said.

In a veiled critique of China, Manmohan Singh said although India’s economic performance may not match that of China’s, but it would still prefer the Indian democracy rather than the Chinese non-democratic path.

“There is no doubt that the Chinese growth performance is superior to the Indian performance,” he said in response to another question on why the Indian economic performance was lagging behind that of China’s.

“But I have always believed there are other values which are more important than the growth of gross domestic product like respect for fundamental human freedoms, respect for rule of law, respect for multi-religious, multi-ethnic rights,” he said.

“Certainly, I would like to choose the Chinese path. I would like to stick to the Indian path,” he stressed.