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China downplays Japanese PM’s visit to India Email this page
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BEIJING: China today downplayed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India as a bilateral issue, even as the state-media termed the trip as a failure for not succeeding in pinning down Beijing.
“The visit you mentioned is an issue between India and Japan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang told a media briefing while responding to a question on Abe’s just-concluded visit to India.

The visit evoked considerable media attention here in view of the China-Japan diplomatic stand off over the disputed islands in East China Sea.

On the emerging defense cooperation between India and Japan, Qin said, “We hope that development of defense cooperation between both countries will be conducive to peace stability and security of the whole region.”

“Because peace, stability and security of the region should be upheld and safeguarded by all relevant countries,” he said.

During Abe’s visit, India invited Japan to join the India-US Malabar Joint military exercises and the two countries discussed the sale of Japan’s US-2 amphibious aircraft to India.

Abe’s visit, however, evoked a lot of interest here with some Chinese publications featuring his presence as Chief Guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations prominently.

“Abe cozies up to India,” a front page report of the state-run Global Times said.

The visit as analysts said aimed at “pinning down China but hardly looks like succeeding,” the report said.

Despite media speculation over a sense of unease being felt in China over Abe, who is the most widely criticized Japanese leader in China, Indian officials were confident that Beijing will see it in a proper context as New Delhi has maintained a steady silence over the Sino-Japanese islands dispute.

India also did not comment on the establishment of an air defense zone over the East China Sea by China, which drew flack from the US and many other countries.

India in general terms has been emphasizing the importance of the freedom of navigation, unimpeded commerce and peaceful settlement of disputes, officials said. Huang Dahui, director of the Centre for East Asia Studies at Renmin University here, said the Indo-Japan relationship is valued by successive Japanese prime ministers as economically important as India is a huge market and has promising development prospects for Japan.

In terms of politics and security, cooperation with India can serve the purpose of restraining China, he told the daily elaborating on the Japanese perception.

“India’s main purpose is to obtain practical interests from Japan and Abe’s wooing of India to resist China is more of his own wishful thinking,” Fu Xiaoqiang, an expert on South Asian studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

He noted that the big picture of bilateral relations between India and China stressing peaceful development has been already established, especially after last year when the two countries’ leaders for the first time exchanged mutual visits with each other inside one year.

Fu said Abe’s India visit is in line with what Abe described as global, strategic diplomacy.

Abe has visited all 10 countries in Southeast Asia and traveled to three African countries and Oman.

Huang said even though Japan has tried different means to pin down China – through strengthening its alliance with the US, containing China with neighboring countries and earning sympathy from the international community – it will fail in the end.

“Abe’s standpoint has gained some audience among neighboring countries currently as they have not adapted to China’s rapid development,” Huang said.

“But as time passes by, other countries will find that the China threat theory is ill-founded,” he said.–PTI

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