Indian Prime Minister's decision not to attend the CHOGM in Colombo may "harm" India's ties with its neighbours as the country sets a new direction to its foreign policy to promote democracy and human rights in the neighbourhood, according to a state run Chinese think-tank.
Blaming the divisive domestic politics for Manmohan Singh to opt out of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), an article in the state-run Global Times said that the "decision has also exposed a new direction of India's foreign policy; promoting values like democracy and human rights protection to its neighbouring countries in an open manner".
"In dealing with its relationship with Sri Lanka, it has adopted a new approach that may harm its relations with neighbours," the article written by Liu Zengyi, a scholar from the Shanghai Institute of International Studies said.
Though the article made no reference to China's concerns over such a policy, Beijing which drew closer to Sri Lanka in the recent years, backing Colombo in UN bodies besides providing financial aid worth several billion dollars itself is a one-party state often facing allegations of human rights violations in stamping out dissent.
The article, published yesterday, referred to the 2005 establishment of the global strategic partnership by Singh and former US president George W Bush, who also reached consensus on the US-India Global Democracy Initiative.
New Delhi, however, restrained in promoting democracy as an ideology in the past few years despite that initiative, it said.
India also joined the UN Democracy Fund, turning itself into the second largest contributor after the US but did not prioritise it as its strategic and security interests when deciding whether to support democratic campaigns in other developing countries.
"Singh rejected attending the summit due to opposition from several regional political parties in Tamil Nadu, who have ties to the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka. This is not the first time the Indian government has to compromise its diplomacy due to objections from local parties," it said.
In March 2012, because of opposition from some parties, including those in Tamil Nadu, India began to condemn Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council, the article said.
"Such incidents have severely damaged India's international image and its relations with neighbouring countries," it said, blaming "such diplomatic behaviour" on India's multiparty system.
"This is going to be a long-term tendency due to India's opening-up policy. It is not a random mistake in coordination between the central government and