India should understand that a good relationship with China is one of its priorities for the country's own interests, a Chinese expert said after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi aggressively showcased India as an alternative to China.
Modi will host 10 Southeast Asian leaders at India's Republic Day celebrations at the end of this month, where traditionally only one foreign dignitary is feted, AFP reported on Wednesday.
Modi will meet with the leaders for "free and frank" discussions during the two-day visit where regional maritime security will feature strongly on the agenda, according to the report.
"India's move is out of anxiety over China's closer relationships with Asian countries," said Wang Dehua, a professor at the International Studies' Institute for South and Central Asian Studies.
After his visit to the US in June, Modi seemed to fit in with US President Donald Trump, who hopes India would play a more important role in Asia, said Wang. However, cozying up to the US does not serve India's interests, Wang said.
Relations between China and India went sour after the Doklam military standoff in June last year, and several senior Indian military or government officials have visited the disputed border region in recent months, which sparked strong protests from China.
"China's interactions with Asian countries are meant to maintain a peaceful and stable development in the area rather than a competing gesture toward India," Wang added.