Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is aptly balancing China and India – the two Asian powerhouses. PM Abe met the Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi just a day after returning from talks with the leader of China. Japan-Indian relations have blossomed off late, but due to US economic policies, Beijing is also keen to relook at its belligerent stance towards both India and Japan.
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Abe and Modi will hold talks with a focus on bilateral security and economic cooperation besides discussing China’s rising political and economic clout across the globe. The Indian government is particularly anxious about China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a project that endeavours to build ports and other infrastructure around the Indian Ocean linking Asia with other parts of the world, which some experts see as a way to strategically restrain India.
Additionally, Abe and Modi are anticipated to confirm their cooperation on “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,” a notion aimed at constructing high-quality infrastructure from Asia to Africa, while promoting policies of freedom of navigation and the rule of law.
Indian officials have said the two are likely to consider reinforcing the “strategic alliance” between the Indian Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force. This comes amid the backdrop of enhanced Chinese naval patrols of key routes through which international commerce flows in the Indo-Pacific region.
Japan and India, along with the with the United States, have been boosting defence relations to counter China’s threatening influence in the region, with the three countries conducting naval exercises frequently in the Indian Ocean.
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