Mellowed China Seeking Trilateral Partnership with India and Japan?

Mistrust in China-India Relations and the bloody history of China and Japan have allied India and Japan together. The relationship between China and Japan has been strained due to Japan’s refusal to acknowledge its violent past towards China. While China-India ties have remained tense following the China-India War in 1962 and Beijing’s continuous support to Pakistan, an arch enemy of India.

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The first visit by a Chinese premier to Tokyo in seven years was a fresh initiative by Beijing to warm-up the frozen relations with Japan.  This visit came after an equally pleasant visit to Jakarta, and President Xi Jinping’s new rapprochement initiative with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and North Korea’s Leader Kim Jong Un.

“It is inevitable that there will be a certain difference of opinion, however, we are committed to maintain friendly relations with Japan and build a bright future together,” Li Keqiang

Perturbed by looming trade sanctions from the US, China is working on to gain support from other countries to counter the U.S. pressure. Beijing is contemplating to provide major concessions on trade and investment to the EU nations, besides Japan, India and Mexico – according to Chinese Officials

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“China is keen to make an opportunity out of a bad situation. Washington’s moves on trade could negatively affect the Chinese economy at a time when it faces internal difficulties,” “But the U.S. has also alienated many of its key trading partners, so Beijing will try to associate with the distressed partners of the US.

This dramatic policy shift has required China to lay aside some of its most intense international disputes. 2017 witnessed highly turbulent cross-border ties between India and China with the Doklam standoff. This was followed by many other decisions, like India boycotting China’s BRI and the Dalai Lama visiting Arunachal Pradesh, which further weakened India-China relations. On the other hand, China and Japan still haven’t settled their 2012 hostility over control of East China Sea islands that plunged China-Japan bilateral relations to an all-time low.

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Meanwhile, Japan and China signed a memorandum on a maritime communication mechanism intended at avoiding accidental encounters at sea. “By transforming the Japan-China relationship from competition to one of harmony, we can contribute greatly to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asian region: Japanese PM Abe

Will China really stick to the new strategy remains to be seen? Many of China’s neighbours, including India and Japan, are apprehensive about Beijing’s rising clout, and its belligerent military and economic policies. South Korea, last year, experienced Chinese economic aggression when Beijing applied trade sanctions on Seoul after South Korea deployed American THAAD missile shield on their soil.

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“The Trade War between China and the U.S. has pushed Beijing to have better and sturdier relations with its neighbours mainly India and Japan. The bolstering of China’s effort to bond with India and Japan is a reaction to U.S. trade protectionism. Will China, Japan and India, the powerhouses of Asia form a trilateral alliance and will this really turn out to be the “Asian Century” is to be seen?

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