India says China seeking ‘foothold’ in South Asia

NEW DELHI, September 7, 2010 (AFP) – China is seeking to expand its influence in South Asia and gain a “foothold” in the region, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in remarks published Tuesday. “China would like to have a foothold in South Asia and we have to reflect on this reality,” Singh was quoted as saying by The Times of India on Tuesday. “We have to be aware of this.”

Following recent meetings with the Chinese leadership, he said there was a desire in Beijing to sort out differences between the two emerging powers, whose relations are wracked by tension and mistrust.

“This leadership will change in two years. There is a new assertiveness among the Chinese. It is difficult to tell which way it will go. So it’s important to be prepared,” he added.

India is watchful of China’s growing presence in the region, including its major investments in ports being built in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

New Delhi was put on guard about China’s growing naval power at the end of last month when two Chinese ships docked in neighbouring Myanmar to take part in a series of military exercises.

Border disputes in northeastern and northwestern India, a short war in 1962 and the p