"India, Japan, Australia on Same Page on China, Says Japanese Foreign Secretary"

Published: 09th June 2015 10:41 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th June 2015 06:44 PM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: With China’s island building policy in the South China Sea garnering a lot of attention and unease across world capital, its recent moves were part of talks at the first-ever trilateral meeting of three democracies in Asia, where all of them found that they were almost “on the same page” regarding the Asian giant.

On Monday, foreign secretary-level senior officers of Indian, Japanese and Australian foreign ministers met in Delhi for the first ever trilateral meeting – S Jaishankar played host to Peter Varghese from Australia and Akitaka Saiki.

But, unlike such diplomatic events, it was kept extremely low profile.

No announcement or photographs of the trilateral dialogue were released by MEA. The only hint about the meeting was when MEA spokesperson tweeted a photo of Japanese foreign secretary Saiki calling on external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday morning. Neither was there any joint statement released after the meeting.

It was an obvious deliberate policy to not rile a certain country, especially since an earlier effort had raised tempers in Beijing.

Despite the clampdown, there were tid-bits of information which came out, when Saiki gave an overview over how the “landscape” had changed in the last 25 years.

"We had a full day discussion on china… More or less, we confirmed with each other we are on the same page,” Saiki said at a speech at a Delhi-based think-tank.

He said that all three officials “compared notes on what each of us think about what’s going on in this region”.

“We will in due course, try to develop concrete projects…Lots of candidates for that,” added Saiki, who is also a former Ambassador to India, just like the Australian diplomat Peter Varghese.

Japan is also part of another trilateral dialogue with India along with United States.

Incidentally, Japan may also be joining the Malabar naval exercise that India conducts with United States, as Saiki hinted strongly.

“Japan Maritime Self Defence force took part in Malabar three times. We are very keen to regularly participate in this exercise… wait for an announcement soon,” Saiki smiled.

Elaborating about the “changing landscape”, Saiki dwelled a lot on "rising China", asserting that the leadership of President Xi Jinping was the catalyst for an aggressive policy on territorial claims.

“Ever since it has been led by Xi Jinping, china is showing different kind of face. Under Hu Jintao, China behaved in more reserved manner,” said Saiki.

With Xi Jinping’s “growing influence” within his own country, China “seems to be more outgoing”. “I am putting it very diplomatically. Some people describe it as aggressive, others as too increasingly self-assertive,” he said.

The senior-most Japanese diplomat said that China “was being feared”.  “Many countries in the region are afraid of what china is going to do in the next few months or next few years,” he asserted.

Incidentally, Australia has lately hardened its stance on China’s policy in South China sea, with Australian PM Tony Abbott deploring “any unilateral alteration of the status quo”.

“What is the purpose of China creating military facilities in a manmade island in South China Sea?” asked Saiki.

He claimed that China had send 379 ships and made 119 “trespasses” to Japanese territorial waters in East China sea around the disputed Senkaku/Diauyou islands.

“Our concern shared by many in the region, including India,” he noted. India, so far, has taken the freedom of navigation line on the South China sea, just like US, which is indirectly a rebuke to Beijing.

“What kind of country will china be under Xi Jinping… He will around for seven and half more years,” Saiki warned.


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