From Lalit K Jha Washington, Feb 2: President Barack Obama has assured China not to feel threatened by good relations between the US and India, as he cautioned the Communist giant against "bullying" small countries like Vietnam or the Philippines on maritime issues.
"I was surprised when I heard that the Chinese government had put out these statements...China doesn't need to be threatened because we have good relations with India," Obama said in his first comments on China's reaction to his unprecedented second visit to India as president.
Obama referred to his November visit to China and said he had some very successful meetings with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. Commenting on Obama's visit to India, China's state-run media had said India must not fall into the trap of rivalry set by the West to support the US' "pivot to Asia" strategy, mainly devised to counter the Communist nation's rise.
"My belief is that in this moment in history, there's an opportunity to create a win-win formula in which all countries are abiding by a common set of rules and standards and we're focused on lifting up prosperity for our people, not at the expense of others, but together with each other. That's what my discussions with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi have focused on," Obama told CNN's Fareed Zakaria.
He said he has continuously emphasised that it is very much in the US interest to see a peaceful rise of China. "What's dangerous for us is a destabilised and impoverished and disintegrating China. It's much better for us if China is doing well," he said in the interview, which was recorded in New Delhi during his three-day India trip. "But what we've said since the start of my term in office is China's growth shouldn't be at the expense of other folks.
It shouldn't bully small countries like Vietnam or Philippines around maritime issues, but try to resolve those peacefully in accordance with international law. It shouldn't manipulate its currencies to get itself trading advantages that others don't have," Obama asserted. "Sometimes we've been successful in getting a response from China on those issues. Sometimes less so. I care deeply about China's success.
I want to make sure that we continue to maintain a constructive relationship," he said. "There's no doubt that there are aspects of India that make us closer to India. Specifically, it's a democracy and it reflects the values and aspirations as well as some of the warts of our own country in a way that China could not.
And so that I think there's an affinity there that I feel personally and I think the American people feel as well," Obama said. China had last year warned India against meddling in its dispute with Vietnam over islands in the South China Sea. It claims almost all of the South China Sea, while Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam contests the Chinese claims on the resource-rich region.