Beijing: China on Monday reacted cautiously to the first trilateral summit between the leaders of Japan, America and India, saying it “remained open” to normal cooperation between them, and hoped they will play a constructive role in promoting peace in the region.
The first meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was held on Friday on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in Argentina.
Modi described the Japan-America-India partnership as JAI.
The meeting assumed importance in the backdrop of China expanding its influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Asked how China views the meeting between the three leaders, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told the media, “We remain open to the normal cooperation among relevant parties”.
“We hope such cooperation will promote mutual trust and cooperation in this region and play a constructive role in promoting the peace, development and prosperity of the region,” he said.
Commenting on the meeting, Chinese analysts said it will not lead to an alliance against China as stated by media reports.
“Neither Japan nor India wants to damage their improving relations with China, but admittedly they also want to maintain good ties with the US, which wants to see China in trouble,” state-run Global Times quoted a Chinese expert as saying on the trilateral meeting.
Qian Feng, a research fellow at Tsinghua University’s National Strategy Institute, told the Global Times that the meeting is more of a symbolic move of the US to manifest that its Indo-Pacific strategy is smoothly moving forward.
Qian said that while China needs to stay vigilant over activities that may harm its interests, it is too soon to conclude that Japan and India will join the US in dealing with China.
However, the three countries have different agendas in the Indo-Pacific, Qian said.
Japan and India are moving toward restoring their relations with China, and it doesn’t do any good for them to openly risk damaging ties, Qian said.
China claims sovereignty over all of the South China Sea. Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims.
China is engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in the East China Sea too with Japan. Beijing has built up and militarised many of the islands and reefs it controls in the region.
On the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) and Russia, India, China (RIC) leaders meetings held on the sidelines of the G20 meeting, Geng said the meetings while focussing on in-depth cooperation in security and improving global governance and rule-based trading system headed by World Trade Organisation (WTO) called for action against multilateralism and protectionism.
“This reflects that the BRICS belief in the core values and principles of the WTO,” Geng said.
China has been calling for international efforts to oppose protectionist policies being pursued by Trump as part of his America first policy.
On the RIC meeting, Geng said the three are important countries as they are also strategic cooperative partners.
“The international situation is complex and volatile with the rising unilateralism and protectionism. We are facing sever challenges.
“The two meetings sent out voice to strengthen multilateralism, strengthen international cooperation for win win and mutually beneficial outcomes. The meetings demonstrated shared will of the developing countries and emerging market for solidarity and cooperation,” he said.