Any move by India to join the US navy for jointly patrolling the disputed South China sea will be against its national interest and it would divide Asian countries and further escalate regional tensions, a state-run Chinese daily said on Friday.
The Chinese media's reaction came after it was reported last month that US and India had talked about launching joint naval patrols in the South China sea for safeguarding freedom of navigation. But India clarified there would be no such patrols and the US also subsequently denied having any such plan.
"Military collaboration between Washington and New Delhi has been heating up in recent years. Nonetheless, the only purpose of the latter to conduct bilateral naval patrols with the former without its interests being hurt is to meet the demand of the largest world power," an article in the state-run Global Times said.
"In this way, the US can include India as a 'vassal state' like Japan and Australia, which will damage India's dignity and deter its pursuit to become a great power," it said.
Playing up India's concerns over the US's move to sell F-16 fighters to Pakistan, the article said "even though New Delhi obeys Washington, it's not likely that it will see the desired return."
"The White House's sale of fighter planes to Pakistan provides the latest example," it said.
"India once mulled over deepening its military cooperation with the US in hope that the latter would cancel the endorsement for its perennial regional rival. But the US has its strategic needs by the sale of weapons and has never changed minds despite India's long-running objection," it said.
Playing down reports that India may join joint patrols with the US in the South China sea where Beijing is locked in a major confrontation, the article said any such move by India would divide Asian countries.
"India's interests in the South China Sea are not threatened. The country boasts close trade relations with East Asian nations. Despite a close military bond with Vietnam, then Manmohan Singh administration rejected Hanoi's invitation to the Indian navy to set up a military base at Na Thrang port," it said.
If New Delhi chooses to follow in the US footsteps, it means the country is taking part in US "pivot to Asia" strategy and adopting a major strategic shift, the report said.
"This move will inevitably divide Asian nations into two camps, further giving rise to regional tensions," it said.
"Nonetheless, if India takes a neutral stance that tallies with its cultural tradition, it will better realise its national interest," it said.
The article said India needs to develop more friends instead of making more enemies.
China claims almost the whole of the South China sea, resulting in overlapping claims with several other Asian nations like Vietnam and the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.