India does not want its ties with China affected by “third-party factors”, visiting Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar told his Chinese counterpart on Monday.
The remarks came one week after Parrikar and US Defense Secretary Ash Carter vowed to safeguard maritime security in the region, including the South China Sea.
According to observers, India is seeking to strike a balance between China and the United States in its frequent high-level meetings with Chinese officials this week.
Also on Monday, India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma tri lateral meeting in Moscow with her Chinese and Russian counterparts, Wang Yi and Sergey Lavrov.
India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is set to arrive in China on Wednesday to meet with State Councilor Yang Jiechi for border talks.
According to a news release issued by the Chinese military, Parrikar told Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, “India hopes to … ensure that the development of bilateral ties is not affected by factors including third parties.
“India attaches the highest priority to relations with China,” Parrikar said.
Chang said China expects to deepen mutual trust with India and protect common interests.
Parrikar also met with Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission, who recently observed building work on some Chinese islands in the South China Sea.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday that the frequent high-level exchanges reflect the good momentum in ties.
India’s Outlook magazine said Doval’s visit is aimed partially at assuring China that a proposed agreement between India and the US is not directed against Beijing and is not a move toward a military alliance.
It said the latest visits “clearly show India’s attempt to expand and build its strategic options”.
On Tuesday last week, India and the US agreed in principle to share and exchange military logistics — an agreement that had been planned for years and would allow the two countries to expand military cooperation.
Wang Xu, executive deputy director of Peking University’s Center for South Asian Studies, said it appears that so far India has not changed its approach of balancing diplomacy to take sides among major powers.