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China hopes Japan will play positive role in region

By Anil K Joseph in Beijing
Last updated on: August 22, 2007 11:31 IST
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China, which is closely watching Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's current visit to India, on Wednesday hoped that Tokyo will play a "positive" role in safeguarding regional peace, stability and development.

"We are willing to see Japan developing friendly ties of cooperation with all countries in the region and playing a positive role in safeguarding regional peace, stability and development," Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu told PTI when asked to comment on Abe's visit to India.

Analysts said that China will be closely watching Abe's "words and deeds" in India, especially on the Indo-US civilian nuclear energy deal, security agreements and business deals, which will have a bearing on the Communist giant.

On the India-US civilian nuclear deal, China has not clearly spoken its mind, but the state-run media last week lashed out against the agreement claiming that it smacks of double-standards and jeopardises global nuclear on-proliferation.

"China believes that to enhance mutual trust, expand cooperation for mutual benefit and win-win, be open and
inclusive is the global trend," the Chinese foreign ministry had said previously when asked to comment on the quadripartite relations.

All countries should conform to the trend and do more to enhance mutual trust and strengthen cooperation, the ministry had stressed while commenting on the holding the first-ever meeting of senior officials of the four nations on May 24-25 in Manila, the Philippines.

Meanwhile, leading Chinese scholars have expressed concern over Japan's "real" intentions in befriending India.

"If Japan wants to have good relations with India it is okay. But if it is aimed to exert pressure on China or contain China, then it is dangerous," research professor with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations Ma Jiali said.

There are some countries who want to see conflicts between China and India, he said without naming any nation.

Ma said that the idea of a democratic alliance between India, the US, Japan and Australia was also a "dangerous and sensitive" move that would divide Asia into two camps based on social systems and ideology.

Commenting on the fast-developing Japan-India relations, deputy director of the Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Professor Sun Shihai noted that their ties have developed rapidly in recent times.

Sun said that some Chinese scholars were concerned about Japan's "real intentions" since Tokyo was an "ally" of the United States.

The US security policy has an influence on Japan and this could in turn exert some influence on Japan-India relations as well, he said.

On the emerging quadripartite relations, Sun said, "It would divide Asia," adding that it would also go against India's growing interests in the East Asia region.

"The so-called democratic alliance is not good for Asia," he said adding, New Delhi's Look East policy could suffer a setback as countries in the region would not want to take sides.

"The so-called democratic alliance excludes not only China, but also other countries in the region," Sun, a prominent Chinese scholar on South Asia, said.

"Any attempts to take China as a rival or contain China will not work," he said adding, it was not in India's strategic interests to be part of the 'democratic alliance.'

Meanwhile, China is also closely looking at the business deals Japan may sign up with India during Abe's visit.

Though India-Japan bilateral trade is nowhere near that of China-Japan trade figures, the state-run China on Monday ran an opinion piece and noted that Japan's investment in China last year was noticeably less than the previous year, while Tokyo's total investment overseas grew by a big margin.

The contrasting developments have occurred due to a complex set of political, economic and security related factors, said Feng Zhaokui, a researcher with the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Feng said the decrease of Japan's investment in China, to a certain extent, is due to the aftermath of the "chilled political ties."

Some have advocated the so-called "China plus 1" investment strategy -- directing part of investments to India or Vietnam, where "political ties-related risks" do not exist, Feng wrote.

On the security issue, the "China threat theory" is all the rage these days with some Japanese scholars "misinterpreting" China's development as an effort to "revive Chinese Empire" and restore the "territorial map" of the past, he said.

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Anil K Joseph in Beijing
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