Prime Minister Modi’s remarks in Tokyo about the “expansionist” tendency displayed by some countries have elicited sharp reactions from the official Chinese media. The comments in the state-run Global Times, an influential Chinese daily, asserted that if Japan attempted to form a united front centred on India, it will be a “crazy fantasy generated by Tokyo’s anxiety of facing a rising Beijing”.
China’s foreign ministry reacted cautiously to Mr Modi’s oblique remarks and avoided direct comment, but Global Times, widely considered the mouthpiece of China’s all-powerful Communist Party, reacted sharply.
“Japanese and Western public opinion views his remarks as a clear reference to China, although he did not mention China by name. This interpretation made some sense because Modi is more intimate to Tokyo emotionally. Therefore, it is perhaps a fact that he embraces some nationalist sentiments against China”, the Global Times commentary said.
The article also pointed out that the Chinese economy is five times compared to the Indian economy. “Mutual trust between Beijing and New Delhi, facing strategic pressure from the north, is difficult to build as there is also an unresolved border conflict between the two,” it said.
“But India has proved it is a rational country, displaying an independent foreign policy and loath being an appendix of any particular power. Plus, India cherishes peace. The consensus between China and India has become stronger over not letting border issues shadow a bilateral relationship. The positive India-China relationship has also created conditions for rapport between India and Pakistan,” it said.
China and Japan, the two neighbouring countries, are involved in territorial disputes over the East China Sea islands and have a history of animosity and rivalry. China has also been criticized for its role in the South China Sea disputes, the resource-rich islands claimed by other neighbouring countries including Vietnam and Philippines.
“The increasing intimacy between Tokyo and New Delhi will bring at most psychological comfort to the two countries. What is involved in China-India relations denotes much more than the display of the blossoming personal friendship between Modi and Abe,” it said.
Putting geopolitics at the forefront, it said: “After all, Japan is located far from India. Abe’s harangue on the Indo-Pacific concept makes Indians comfortable. It is South Asia where New Delhi has to make its presence felt. However, China is a neighbour it can’t move away from. Sino-Indian ties can in no way be counterbalanced by the Japan-India friendship.”
“Both as new emerging countries and members of BRICS, China and India have plenty of interests in common. Geopolitical competition is not the most important thing for the two countries, at least at present,” it said.
China has suspected India of teaming up with the US and Japan to contain its rise, but New Delhi has repeatedly allayed Beijing’s worries on this front. Prime Minister Modi, for one, has a development-focused foreign policy and will seek to build close relations with both Japan and China to widen options for spurring India’s national development and infrastructure upgrade.
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