A day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an oblique reference to China by saying that the “expansionist” ideas of the 18th century are still visible in the world, a Chinese Communist Party-run newspaper said that “if Japan attempts to form a united front centred on India, it will be a crazy fantasy generated by Tokyo’s anxiety of facing a rising Beijing”.
Meanwhile, during a session at the Sacred Heart university, Modi — when questioned by a student about how peace could be pursued in Asia despite China’s “expansionist” designs — said, “You seemed to be troubled a lot by China.” He then sidestepped the question. “India is a democratic country. Similarly, Japan is also a democratic country. If India and Japan together think about peace and positive things, we can make the world realise the strength of a democracy,” he said.
“We should focus on progress and development instead of paying attention to others,” he added.
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In an editorial titled Modi-Abe brings scant comfort, the Global Times reproduced Modi’s remarks made in Tokyo, where he said, “Everywhere around us, we see an 18th century expansionist mindset: encroaching in other countries, intruding in others’ waters, invading other countries and capturing territory.”
The paper said that the Japanese and Western public views them as a reference to China, although he did not mention the country by name.
“This interpretation made some sense because Modi is more intimate to Tokyo emotionally. Therefore, it is perhaps a fact that he embraces some nationalist sentiments against China. But the rationality, policy and strategy of a big country are shaped by its national interests. As a defender of India’s national interests, Modi is predicted to make some remarks suitable for media hype, but he has avoided naming China directly,” it said.
The editorial said that the increasing intimacy between Tokyo and New Delhi will bring at most “psychological comfort” to the two countries.
“What is involved in China-India relations denotes much more than the display of the blossoming personal friendship between Modi and Abe,” it said.
It added that mutual trust between Beijing and New Delhi is difficult to build as there is an unresolved border conflict. “But India has proved it is a rational country, displaying an independent foreign policy… China-India relations are stable,” it said.