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Abe's 'broader Asia' plan irks China
August 23, 2007 16:15 IST
Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe's [Images] suggestion in New Delhi to have a "broader Asia" partnership involving India, the US, Australia and his country while leaving out China, has come in for sharp criticism from scholars in Beijing [Images], who claimed it resurrects a "Cold War mentality" and is not conducive to regional peace.
During a major foreign policy speech in Indian Parliament on Wednesday, Abe mooted the idea of a "broader Asia" partnership that would include India, the US and Australia, besides Japan [Images]. He did not mention China in the speech.
Abe's idea of an alliance of democracies among Japan, India, the US and Australia is not conducive to peace and stability in the region as it could divide Asia by ideology, Chinese analysts said.
To preach of a quadripartite alliance resurrects a "Cold War mentality" and is designed to "deliberately" divide Asia, an expert in South Asia studies at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, Hu Shisheng was quoted as saying by the China Daily.
"Japan's intention is obvious. It aims to counter-balance the rising influence of China in the region," Hu said.
Echoing Hu, the Deputy Director of the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Professor Sun Shihai said the so-called democratic alliance is not good for Asia. "Any attempts to make China a rival or contain China will not work."
In his speech, Abe told Indian lawmakers: "This partnership is an association in which we share fundamental values such as freedom, democracy and respect for basic human rights as well as strategic interests."
"By Japan and India coming together in this way, this 'broader Asia' will evolve into an immense network spanning the entirety of the Pacific Ocean, incorporating the United States of America and Australia," Abe said.
While Abe has improved ties with China, which had frayed under his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi [Images], he has also stressed the need to forge closer links with "democracies" in what analysts have said was a tacit criticism of Beijing.
About the first-ever meeting of the senior officials of the four nations on May 24-25 in Manila, the Chinese foreign ministry had said that all countries should conform to the trend of expanding cooperation for mutual benefit.
In response to a question about Abe's ongoing visit to India, the ministry Wednesday said "We are willing to see Japan develop friendly ties of cooperation with all countries in the region and play a positive role in safeguarding regional peace, stability and development."
Analysts said Chinese Defence Minister Gen Cao Gangchuan, who will pay a five-day visit to Japan from August 29, is expected to raise objections to the "broader Asia" concept.
Cao's official goodwill visit to Japan was announced by Chinese defence ministry, the first top-level defence contact between the two neighbours since September 2003.
During the visit, seen here by analysts as a major step toward advancing bilateral ties that have been witnessing turbulent times in recent years, Chinese and Japanese defence ministers are expected to discuss reciprocal visits by the Chinese navy and maritime self-defence forces and the setting up of a hotline between the two countries' defence ministries.