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China has a message for India and Japan: Form partnership, not alliance

China is closely tracking Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s high-profile visit to India, and the Chinese state media has referred to efforts by the two countries to forge closer ties.

world Updated: Sep 14, 2017 21:43 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
India-Japan relations,Prime Minister Shinzo Abe,Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe shake hands at the India-Japan annual summit in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, on September 14, 2017. (PTI)

China on Thursday sent out a clear message to India about its deepening ties with Japan - New Delhi and Tokyo should forge a partnership conducive to peace in the region instead of an alliance.

During Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s two-day official visit to India, India and Japan discussed their joint role in the India-Pacific region where China is increasingly becoming assertive.

The message from the foreign ministry in Beijing was couched in diplomatic terms but the message was sharp – close ties between India and Japan should not be an effort to counter China.

“We advocate that regional countries should stand for dialogue without confrontation and work for partnership instead of alliance,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.

“We also stay open and welcome normal development of relations between the countries in the region. We hope that relations will be conducive to regional peace and stability and can play a constructive role in this regard,” Hua told a regular news briefing.

Beijing is closely tracking Abe’s high-profile visit to India. It certainly wouldn’t have escaped China’s notice that Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed Abe in Gujarat, where he had welcomed President Xi Jinping exactly three years ago.

An editorial in the nationalistic Global Time tabloid talked about expanding ties between New Delhi and Tokyo, and Japan’s “narrow-minded” outlook to “encircle China”.

The editorial said that “in a changing world, the India-Japan intimacy is more like a contrivance”.

“As long as Chinese society is mentally strong enough, calls in the Indian and Japanese media for them to draw closer will be in vain. India and Japan are unlikely to form a military and political alliance with the US, despite not being able to let go of the mentality from the 20th century,” said the editorial, which also referred to the recently resolved standoff between India and China at Doklam.

“After the Doklam standoff, more voices in the Indian media instigate the country to step up cooperation with the US and Japan against China and exaggerate the geopolitical significance of closer India-Japan ties. Yet this to a large degree has exposed the vulnerable feeling of the Indian strategic circle in front of China,” it added.

The editorial further said: “They want to encourage themselves by calling for India's alliance with the US and Japan to showcase India's strategic potential to China. This suits the desperate needs of Indian society's mentality.”

It added, “A strong China has the confidence that no Asian country can substantially challenge China's national security, nor can they by grouping together. China has been in the core of economic cooperation in Asia. Geopolitics is unlikely to go against the geo-economic situation.”

First Published: Sep 14, 2017 17:36 IST