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China gets paranoiac over India's 'Look East Policy'

October 31, 2010

Tibetan Review
October 30, 2010

A haughtily provocative column in China’s
official China Daily newspaper Oct 28 accused
India of seeking to encircle China while pursuing
a ‘Look East Policy' but stressed that Beijing
was fully capable of meeting the challenge.
"India cannot relax its spasm of worries about
China nor can it brush aside the fear that China
might nip its ambitions in the bud," wrote Ms Li Hongmei.

The Economic Times online (India) Oct 28 noted
that Li's column, headlined "India's `Look East
Policy' means `Look to encircle China'?",
appeared on the day Indian Prime Minister
Manmohan Singh flew into Vietnam on the final leg
of a three-nation tour that also took him to Japan and Malaysia.

The "Look East policy," wrote Li, "was born out
of failure -- the failure of India's Cold War
strategy of `playing both ends against the
middle'...” She advised India to "wisely skip the out-of-tune piece."

Obviously condemning Mr Singh’s visit to Japan,
Li sought to make it clear that India could not
afford to choose Japan over China in bilateral
relations as if that was indeed India’s plan. She
wrote, "The savvy Indian leadership will never
rashly board the ship of Japan without giving a
glance at China's expression. After all, it is
not Japan, but China that acts as India's largest
trade partner, with the overall volume in 2010 to exceed $60 billion."

Li has presumed that by signing a sweeping
economic pact with Japan, the Indian media hoped
Tokyo would be helped to prevent "China's
expansion". "Japan and India have both placed
high expectations upon each other in combining
strengths to counterbalance China," Li assumes.
She says, however, that some in Japan were afraid
that getting too close to New Delhi would be
risky as this may earn Tokyo Beijing’s anger,
thereby putting paid to India’s supposed desire.

Analysts have noted that Beijing does have a
paranoia about India building strategic ties with
countries in China’s neighbourhood. "Any attempt
by New Delhi to build strategic links to East
Asian nations will be decried by Beijing," the
Hindustan Times online Oct 27 quoted research
fellow Dean Cheng at the Heritage Foundation in
Washington as saying. "The point is not so much
whether India (or any nation) is trying to
encircle Beijing, but whether Beijing believes
that's the case. This article (by Li) typifies
thinking in some quarters that this is precisely what's going on."

The report, however, did cite a Chinese analyst
in Shanghai as cautioning against
'over-interpreting' India's look east policy. "On
the surface, India's look east policy is not
strategic. It's to tap the opportunity to
strengthen the nation's competitiveness and build
India," it quoted Shen Dingli, executive dean of
the Institute of International Relations at Fudan University, as saying.

Officially, China has emphasized friendly
relations between the two countries while
avoiding reacting to Singh's talks with his
Japanese counterpart Naoto Kan in Tokyo, where
the two leaders discussed the rise of China, the report noted.
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