China a key factor in Indo-Japan talks
China will be the necessary subtext of the discussions when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe hold the 12th annual India-Japan summit talks — fourth by the two leaders — in Gujarat’s capital, Gandhinagar, on Thursday, sources said.
Japan was the only major power that openly took a position favouring India in the recent military standoff with China at Doklam at the India-Tibet-Bhutan tri-junction, which has set a new normal in how border disputes could play out in their ties.
Both India and Japan have a great deal of commonality on a host of issues and there is also substantial convergence in the way they see the rise of China, balance of power in Asia-Pacific, and international developmental cooperation in third countries, particularly in Africa.
The two countries are also part of G -4 grouping (with Brazil and Germany) and would want to become permanent members of the UN Security council.
As Abe said in a public message before arriving, the two countries have common interest in the India-Pacific region. IndiaJapan working together would be mutually beneficial in a way that would also counter the growing influence of China in the region, experts say.
India and Japan are focusing on building infrastructure in other countries. The countries in Africa, where the Chinese took definite lead, are a case in point.
India giving aid to big infrastructure projects in Africa is a recent phenomenon started by the previous Congress-led UPA II government and is carried forward by the NDA government.
Japan is focusing on a “quality infrastructure strategy,” aimed at countering China’s infrastructure development spree. According to various estimates, China would pump in US$ 1 trillion into Africa as part of its One Road One Belt initiative. Japan’s overseas development assistance to SubSaharan Africa was 226 billion yen in 2015 and the figure for Middle-East and North Africa in the same year was 171 billion yen. Japan is assisting the development of Mombasa port in Kenya, a gateway to the East African market, where Indian firms have influence and presence.
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.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is currently on a two-day official visit to India. India and Japan are expected to discuss 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 said.
Beijing is closely tracking Abe’s high-profile visit to India.
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 Doklam standoff between India and China.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, on Thursday,