A day after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrapped up his two-day India visit, promising enhanced bilateral strategic and economic ties, including stepping up investments in the remote northeastern states of India, China’s Foreign Ministry took the chance to remind India about its claims over the region.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said China is against any foreign investments, including from Japan, in India’s northeast region and is opposed to any third party’s involvement in resolving its border disputes with the country.
“You also mentioned the Act East policy. You must be clear that the boundary of the India and China border area has not been totally delimited. We have disputes on the eastern section of the boundary,” Chunying said during a regular media briefing in Beijing.
“We are now trying to seek a solution through negotiations that is acceptable to both sides. Under such circumstances, various parties should respect such aspects and any third party should not be involved in our efforts to resolve the disputes,” she said.
Hua also said that she has not seen any “innuendos” referring to Beijing in the India-Japan joint statement, as stated by the media.
“To be frank we are also closely following the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to India. I read the joint statement carefully but I have not found that the statement mentioned the term China at all,” she said.
References to conflicts in the Indo-Pacific, including the South China Sea, are mentioned in the joint statement; Hua said the statement mentioned disputes to be resolved through dialogue.
Experts in India are of the opinion that as New Delhi and Tokyo have stepped up their engagement to achieve larger strategic goals in the region, China 's uneasiness is understandable.
"China's statement is not surprising and shows they are factoring in Japan's investment in India's northeastern region, which at present lags behind in terms of development and infrastructure. A change in India's position is that it is ready to open the region to foreign investments, a major shift in traditional policy where we prevented that. Japan has committed itself to the development of the region which could provide India access to south-east Asia and link with Japan's larger strategic goals.
Japan’s Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure (EPQI) partnering with India, which focuses on connectivity and quality infrastructure, poses a challenge to China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) in the region," Dr. Jagannath P. Panda, Research Fellow & Center Coordinator, East Asia, at the New Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, told Sputnik.