Japan-India News

Japanese Perspective on the Rise of China and India

Posted February 10, 2011

Here is a opinion paper by Hiroshi Hirabayashi, president of the Japan-India Association, on the rise of China and India describing how differently the two countries and their ascendances are perceived in Japan, the rest of Asia and the United States and what impacts they are giving on politico-security situations in this part of the world.
Hirabayashi makes some suggestions to cope with the increasingly assertive China. The paper was presented to the workshop, at Keio University on February 5th, sponsored jointly by the Center for Contemporary Chinese Studies of Keio University and the Council of Foreign Relations.

Japanese Perspective on the Rise of China and India
        Hiroshi HIRABAYASHI
        President of the Japan-India Association
        Vice-President of the Japan Forum on
                  International Relations

1.China’s increasing assertiveness and expansionist movements in East Asia
Since a couple of years ago, China’s increasingly assertive and expansive behaviors in East China Sea, South China Sea and even along the shores of the Indian Ocean have started to alarm China’s neighbors. In the East China Sea, China’s overt claims and actions to secure them over the Spratly and Paracel Islands irritate so much the South East Asian neighbors. The decision of the ASEAN Summit in October last year to invite the US and Russia into the East Asian Summit was partially motivated by their concerns about the possible dominance of China in East Asia. The subsequent East Asian Summit endorsed this decision.
In the nearby waters of Japan, Chinese Navy vessels have started to venture into the seas surrounding Okinawa Islands. Chinese Navy vessels including submarines passed through Okinawa islands into the Pacific. In September last year, a Chinese fishing boat illegally operating close to Japan’s Senkaku islands, warned by the Japanese Coast Guard, intentionally and even twice launched flank attacks against a Coast Guard vessel. Instead of expressing regrets over Chinese nationals’ blatant acts, China took tough and self-righteous reactions and even demanded indemnities from Japan, which awakened Japanese people with a strong wake-up call to China’s increasing aggressiveness. Later in the same year, another Chinese fishing boat made similar charges against South Korean Coast Guard vessel and even harmed some officers in South Korean waters.
China seems to have decided to abandon a policy of “ Hide our capacity and bide our time” recommended by Deng Xiaoping and to project their naval power up to the “First Island Chain” touching the Japanese archipelago, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines. The fishing-boat incidents may be the first step to test her neighbors’ reactions. The second step, if unchallenged by the US and her allies, will be stretching their naval power up to the “Second Island Chain” ranging from the Japanese archipelago south to the Bonin and Marshal islands including Guam.
These events have alarmed the Japanese people and the Japanese government led by Prime Minister Naoto Kan and pushed them to revalue Japan-US Alliance which had been damaged by the previous Hatoyama administration. They have also awakened South Korea, ASEAN countries and India as well as the Obama administration. Not only Japan and the US but also these Asian countries are now more convinced with the necessity of the Japan-US alliance as public goods indispensable for the peace and stability of the region.

2.India’s rise and her concerns with China
India’s ascendance, to the contrary, is perceived as peaceful and welcomed in the region. The two
most populace countries in the world have emerged in spectacular manner but in different ways, one as a successful dictatorial development and the other as a steady but cumbersome democracy. They join their hands, if necessary, to duck pressures from the developed world as we have witnessed in the successive COP meetings on climate change or the failed talks of Doha Round of the World Trade Organization. However, their mutual distrust, nurtured since the Indo-China war over the Himalayans in 1962, stubbornly subsist. This distrust comes from not only Chinese rapid military buildup and their continued assistance to Pakistan, but also a new series of actions recently taken by China against India.
China’s help to Pakistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka for the construction of four “commercial ports” on their shores have alarmed Indian strategists; China is putting the “String of Pearls” strategy in practice as these ports surround India like a necklace and will be eventually used by China’s blue water navy vessels.
The talks to settle boundary issues started since the turn of the century between India and China have made no progress. More recently, China begun to harass Indian authorities and people by rejecting a normal entry visa but issuing a special stapled visa firstly to the residents of the state of Jammu & Kashmir and then those of the state of Arunachal Pradesh. China intends to show Indians and the World alike that these two states are the disputed territories, one with Pakistan and the other with China herself. China went one step further. Last year, China apparently objected to the visit to Arunachal Pradesh by Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and to a development project in that state to be financed by the Asian Development Bank. India claims now that PLA soldiers have recently crossed into Ladakh region of the north-west Indian Himalayas.
Coupled with rapidly flooding Chinese cheaper goods in the Indian market, criticism against, and disillusionment of, China have surfaced and frustrated the government and people of India.
Since early 1990s, India has promoted successfully “Look East” policy. After becoming a dialogue partner of the ASEAN and a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum in the mid-90s, India became in 2005 a member to the East Asian Summit along with Australia and New Zealand on the initiative of Japan. Contrary to China, India does inspire neither apprehension nor distrust. Rather all Asian countries want to have India as a counter-balancing power via-a vis an ever-expansive China. Most of Asians feel comfortable with the “largest democracy” as a guarantor of the sea lanes through the Indian Ocean as well.

3.American’s awakened suspicion of China and increasing trust towards India
Different from the US Congress which shows always skepticism and occasionally distrust to Chinese Communist Authorities, if not to the Chinese people, US administrations have sometimes vacillated in their China policies.
The Obama administration started to expect China as a responsible partner to manage world politics and economy. During the state visit of President Hu Jintao in the US, January this year, President Obama and his team have only realized that their positive posture and hospitality have not been rewarded; China did not accommodated herself to US expectations in terms of North Korea, human rights and the appreciation of Yuan. Mr. Obama wisely rejected the insertion into the joint communiqué of a clause mentioning “mutual respect to the other’s core interests” on which China insisted, quoting the precedent in the joint communiqué issued on the occasion of Mr. Obama’s visit to Beijing in November, 2009. China’s continued and unrelenting military build-up is increasingly perceived as China’s ambition not only to catch up economically but eventually challenge the US even in military capabilities. The so-called “G2” consortium proves a simple illusion, at least for the time being.
On the other hand, US-India relationship which suffered from Indian nuclear tests in May 1998 continues to warm up. Since the US agreed in principle in 2006 and finally inked in 2008 the agreement to provide India with civil nuclear cooperation earnestly coveted by India, the oldest and the largest democracies have enlarged and deepened cooperation on all fronts. In the recent visit to India in November, 2010, President Obama endorsed for the first time India’s aspiration to a permanent membership of the Security Council of the United Nations.
Increasingly visible Indian presence is noticed in the US. Indian-Americans and non-resident-Indians (NRI) amount to around 2.5 millions. Symbolically, two governors of Indian origin are in office in Louisiana and South Carolina and the India Caucus within the US Congress counts more than 200 lawmakers.
Currently the peace and stability in the Indian Ocean are guaranteed by both the US Seventh Fleet and the Indian Navy. Their cooperation is welcomed by most countries in East Asia, South East Asia and the Gulf region.

In the Asia-Pacific equations, China attracts not only FDI and FII with her economic might, but also increasing suspicion and apprehension about not so much her rise itself but the way of her rising.
China is earnestly expected by changing both their politico-military strategy and actions to improve her regional and international relations; she has to become a power of stability in Asia –Pacific region and a contributor to the peace and stability of the international community.
To the contrary, India is regarded by Asians and Americans alike as a stabilizing power and her larger engagement in Asian and world affairs is welcomed. One caution! India dislikes to be regarded as a pawn of the chess; she is a great country proud of her long civilization and yet with a mindset inherited from the centuries of Moslem occupation and British colonialism. India can be counted, only if treated with due respect to their sensitivities.
Japan and the US, while remedying and consolidating their alliance, should induce China to act peacefully and constructively. At the same time, they should apply sophisticated diplomacies to engage India to prevent China from disturbing peace and stability in the region.

                    - End.