Beijing, April 9: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visits to France, Germany and Canada this month is part of New Delhi's efforts to bolster its "Link West" policy, a leading English daily of China stated on Thursday.
"In an effort to bolster his 'Link West' diplomacy, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi kicks off his maiden visit to Europe on Thursday since assuming office in May last year, with stops at France and Germany before he travels to Canada," the Global Times, known for its sharp views on India, said in an op-ed piece headlined "Modi's warm reception in Europe marks slow steps toward India's emergence".
The article is based on an interview with Zhao Gancheng, director of South Asia Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies.
"As the pragmatic prime minister is eager to boost the country's stagnant economy, his primary goal is bringing forward India's economic and trade ties with these countries and attracting investment to India, which is short of capital, by advertising India's investment climate during the eight-day trip," it stated.
Zhao is of the view that "France and Germany, financially powerful and with big sway in Europe, are reasonable choices for starting a tour of the 28-member (European Union) bloc".
"India has no substantial grudges or divergences on political issues with the three countries, but bilateral relationships with them have long maintained aloof as their attention is seldom given to the emerging country apart from regular meetings," the article stated.
"Therefore, Modi hopes to improve the ties and lift them to a higher and more mature level, although what he wants more is to intensify the bilateral economic and trade ties."
It pointed out that the visit to France would focus on weapons purchase and nuclear reactors.
"Modi's agenda includes discussions for the sale of European pressurised reactors and 126 Dassault Rafale medium-range multi-role combat aircraft. India seeks inclusion in the 48-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, and France's support is essential for this and will facilitate its use of civil nuclear energy," it stated.
According to the article, German investors have high expectations from Modi's visit.
"In fact, the roaring labour costs and stricter environment regulations in China have pushed enthusiastic investors to look away and eye India as a more desirable destination, particularly those from small- and medium-sized businesses. And the widespread English proficiency in India also gives a fillip to their interest," the article stated, reflecting Zhao's views.
As for the Canada leg of the tour, the article reiterated the Canadian high commission's statement that it would enable the leaders "to reaffirm the close relationship between Canada and India and to discuss ways to further broaden its scope".
It stated that Modi would also take up the issue of India's permanent membership in the UN Security Council during the course of his talks with the leaders of these three countries.
As for the business and economic aspect of Modi's three-nation tour, it stated: "The next two years is critical for India as the country is predicted to have the economy grow by 8.1-8.5 percent in the 2015-16 financial year despite the global economic slowdown, and in the process foreign investment is critical. Once the prediction can be realized, it will send considerably an encouraging message to the Western countries."
The article pointed out that despite many meetings and visits between India and the EU, the talks "have hardly translated into actual outcomes and no considerable European investment has been made in India", adding that one of the reasons was India's slow infrastructure deveopment.
"A dramatic improvement in India's relationship with Europe and remarkable progress in their economic cooperation is unlikely to happen just through one visit. There won't be big strides forward in India and changes have to take place slowly and gradually," it concluded.